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BAYOU FOLK 



BY 



KATE CHOPIN 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 



1894 



Copyright, 1894, 
BY KATE CHOPIN. 

All rights reserved. 



The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. 
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Co. 




CONTENTS. 



S E - 
1 



PAGE 

A No- ACCOUNT CREOLE 

IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES ... 51 

IN SABINE 78 

A VERY FINE FIDDLE 96 

BEYOND THE BAYOU 99 

OLD AUNT PEGGY Ill 

THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE 113 

A RUDE AWAKENING 126 

THE BENITOUS SLAVE 143 

DESIRE"E S BABY 147 

A TURKEY HUNT 159 

MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE .... 163 

LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU . . . . . 170 

LOKA 193 

BOULOT AND BOULOTTE 207 

FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE . . . . 210 

A VISIT TO AVOYELLES 223 

A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG .... 230 

MA AME PELAGIE 245 

AT THE CADIAN BALL 261 

LA BELLE ZORAIDE 280 

A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE . . . 291 
A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN .... 304 



BAYOU FOLK. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

I. 

ONE agreeable afternoon in late autumn 
two young men stood together on Canal 
Street, closing a conversation that had evi 
dently begun within the club-house which 
they had just quitted. 

" There s big money in it, Off dean," said 
the elder of the two. " I would n t have you 
touch it if there was n t. Why, they tell me 
Patchly s pulled a hundred thousand out of 
the concern a ready." 

" That may be," replied Off dean, who had 
been politely attentive to the words ad 
dressed to him, but whose face bore a look 
indicating that he was closed to conviction. 
He leaned back upon the clumsy stick which 
he carried, and continued : " It s all true, I 
dare say, Fitch ; but a decision of that sort 
would mean more to me than you d believe 



CREOLE. 



if I were to tell you. The beggarly twenty- 
five thousand s all I have, and I want to 
sleep with it under my pillow a couple of 
months at least before I drop it into a slot." 

" You 11 drop it into Harding & Offdean s 
mill to grind out the pitiful two and a half 
per cent commission racket ; that s what 
you 11 do in the end, old fellow see if you 
don t." 

"Perhaps I shall; but it s more than 
likely I shan t. We 11 talk about it when 
I get back. You know I m off to north 
Louisiana in the morning " 

"No! What the deuce "- 

" Oh, business of the firm." 

" Write me from Shreveport, then ; or 
wherever it is." 

" Not so far as that. But don t expect to 
hear from me till you see me. I can t say 
when that will be." 

Then they shook hands and parted. The 
rather portly Fitch boarded a Prytania Street 
car, and Mr. Wallace Offdean hurried to the 
bank in order to replenish his portemonnaie, 
which had been materially lightened at the 
club through the medium of unpropitious 
jack-pots and bobtail flushes. 

He was a sure-footed fellow, this young 



A NO- AC COUNT CREOLE. 3 

Offdean, despite an occasional fall in slip 
pery places. What he wanted, now that he 
had reached his twenty-sixth year and his 
inheritance, was to get his feet well planted 
on solid ground, and to keep his head cool 
and clear. 

With his early youth he had had certain 
shadowy intentions of shaping his life on in 
tellectual lines. That is, he wanted to ; and 
he meant to use his faculties intelligently, 
which means more than is at once apparent. 
Above all, he would keep clear of the mael 
stroms of sordid work and senseless pleasure 
in which the average American business man 
may be said alternately to exist, and which 
reduce him, naturally, to a rather ragged 
condition of soul. 

Offdean had done, in a temperate way, 
the usual things which young men do who 
happen to belong to good society, and are 
possessed of moderate means and healthy 
instincts. He had gone to college, had 
traveled a little at home and abroad, had 
frequented society and the clubs, and had 
worked in his uncle s commission-house ; in 
all of which employments he had expended 
much time and a modicum of energy. 

But he felt all through that he was simply 



4 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

in a preliminary stage of being, one that 
would develop later into something tangible 
and intelligent, as he liked to tell himself. 
With his patrimony of twenty-five thousand 
dollars came what he felt to be the turning- 
point in his life, the time when it be 
hooved him to choose a course, and to get 
himself into proper trim to follow it man 
fully and consistently. 

When Messrs. Harding & Offdean deter 
mined to have some one look after what they 
called " a troublesome piece of land on Red 
River," Wallace Offdean requested to be 
intrusted with that special commission of 
land-inspector. 

A shadowy, ill-defined piece of land in an 
unfamiliar part of his native State, might, 
he hoped, prove a sort of closet into which 
he could retire and take counsel with his 
inner and better self. 

n. 

What Harding & Offdean had called a 
piece of land on Red River was better 
known to the people of Natchitoches l parish 
as " the old Santien place." 

In the days of Lucien Santien and his 

1 Pronounced Nack-e-tosh. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 5 

hundred slaves, it had been very splendid in 
the wealth of its thousand acres. But the 
war did its work, of course. Then Jules San- 
tien was not the man to mend such damage 
as the war had left. His three sons were 
even less able than he had been to bear the 
weighty inheritance of debt that came to 
them with the dismantled plantation ; so it 
was a deliverance to all when Harding & 
Offdean, the New Orleans creditors, relieved 
them of the place with the responsibility 
and indebtedness which its ownership had 
entailed. 

Hector, the eldest, and Gregoire, the 
youngest of these Santien boys, had gone 
each his way. Placide alone tried to keep a 
desultory foothold upon the land which had 
been his and his forefathers . But he too 
was given to wandering within a radius, 
however, which rarely took him so far that 
he could not reach the old place in an after 
noon of travel, when he felt so inclined. 

There were acres of open land cultivated 
in a slovenly fashion, but so rich that cotton 
and corn and weed and " cocoa-grass " grew 
rampant if they had only the semblance of a 
chance. The negro quarters were at the far 
end of this open stretch, and consisted of a 



6 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

long row of old and very crippled cabins. 
Directly back of these a dense wood grew, 
and held much mystery, and witchery of 
sound and shadow, and strange lights when 
the sun shone. Of a gin-house there was 
left scarcely a trace ; only so much as could 
serve as inadequate shelter to the miserable 
dozen cattle that huddled within it in winter 
time. 

A dozen rods or more from the Red 
River bank stood the dwelling-house, and no 
where upon the plantation had time touched 
so sadly as here. The steep, black, moss- 
covered roof sat like an extinguisher above 
the eight large rooms that it covered, and 
had come to do its office so poorly that 
not more than half of these were habitable 
when the rain fell. Perhaps the live-oaks 
made too thick and close a shelter about it. 
The verandas were long and broad and in 
viting ; but it was well to know that the 
brick pillar was crumbling away under one 
corner, that the railing was insecure at an 
other, and that still another had long ago 
been condemned as unsafe. But that, of 
course, was not the corner in which Wallace 
Offdean sat the day following his arrival 
at the Saiitien place. This one was com- 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 7 

paratively secure. A gloire-de-Dijon, thick- 
leaved and charged with huge creamy blos 
soms, grew and spread here like a hardy 
vine upon the wires that stretched from post 
to post. The scent of the blossoms was de 
licious ; and the stillness that surrounded 
OfHeaii agreeably fitted his humor that 
asked for rest. His old host, Pierre Man- 
ton, the manager of the place, sat talking to 
him in a soft, rhythmic monotone ; but his 
speech was hardly more of an interruption 
than the hum of the bees among the roses. 
He was saying : 

"If it would been me myse f, I would 
nevair grumb . Wen a chimbly breck, I 
take one, two de boys ; we patch im up bes 
we know how. We keep on men de fence , 
firs one place, anudder ; an if it would n 
be f er dem mule of Lacroix tonnerre ! 
I don wan to talk bout dem mule . But 
me, I would n grumb . It s Euphrasie, 
hair. She say dat s all fool nonsense fer 
rich man lack Hardin -Oflde n to let a piece 
o Ian goin lack dat." 

" Euphrasie ? " questioned Offdean, in 
some surprise ; for he had not yet heard of 
any such person. 

" Euphrasie, my li le chile. Escuse me 



8 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

one minute," Pierre added, remembering 
that he was in his shirt-sleeves, and rising 
to reach for his coat, which hung upon a peg 
near by. He was a small, square man, with 
mild, kindly face, brown and roughened 
from healthy exposure. His hair hung gray 
and long beneath the soft felt hat that he 
wore. When he had seated himself, Off- 
dean asked : 

" Where is your little child? I have n t 
seen her," inwardly marveling that a little 
child should have uttered such words of 
wisdom as those recorded of her. 

" She yonder to Mme. Duplan on Cane 
River. I been kine espectin hair sence yis- 
tiday hair an Placide," casting an uncon 
scious glance down the long plantation road. 
" But Mme. Duplan she nevair want to let 
Euphrasie go. You know it s hair raise 
Euphrasie sence hair po ma die , Mr. Off> 
de n. She teck dat li le chile, an raise it, 
sem lack she raisin Ninette. But it s mo 
an a year now Euphrasie say dat s all fool 
nonsense to leave me livin lone lack dat, 
wid nuttin cep dem nigger an Placide 
once a w ile. An she came yair bossin ! 
My goodness ! " The old man chuckled, 
" Dat s hair been writin all dem letter to 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 9 

Hardin -Offde n. If it would been me my- 

se f" 

in. 

Placide seemed to have had a foreboding 
of ill from the start when he found that Eu- 
phrasie began to interest herself in the con 
dition of the plantation. This ill feeling 
voiced itself partly when he told her it was 
none of her lookout if the place went to the 
dogs. " It s good enough for Joe Duplan 
to run things en grand seigneur, Euphrasie ; 
that s w at s spoiled you." 

Placide might have done much single- 
handed to keep the old place in better trim, if 
he had wished. For there was no one more 
clever than he to do a hand s turn at any 
and every thing. He could mend a saddle or 
bridle while he stood whistling a tune. If a 
wagon required a brace or a bolt, it was no 
thing for him to step into a shop and turn 
out one as deftly as the most skilled black 
smith. Any one seeing him at work with 
plane and rule and chisel would have de 
clared him a born carpenter. And as for 
mixing paints, and giving a fine and lasting 
coat to the side of a house or barn, he had 
not his equal in the country. 



10 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

This last talent he exercised little in his 
native parish. It was in a neighboring one, 
where he spent the greater part of his time, 
that his fame as a painter was established. 
There, in the village of Orville, he owned a 
little shell of a house, and during odd times 
it was Placide s great delight to tinker at 
this small home, inventing daily new beauties 
and conveniences to add to it. Lately it had 
become a precious possession to him, for in 
the spring he was to bring Euphrasie there 
as his wife. 

Maybe it was because of his talent, and his 
indifference in turning it to good, that he was 
often called " a no-account Creole " by thrift 
ier souls than himself. But no-account cre- 
ole or not, painter, carpenter, blacksmith, 
and whatever else he might be at times, he 
was a Santien always, with the best blood in 
the country running in his veins. And many 
thought his choice had fallen in very low 
places when he engaged himself to marry 
little Euphrasie, the daughter of old Pierre 
Manton and a problematic mother a good 
deal less than nobody. 

Placide might have married almost any 
one, too ; for it was the easiest thing in the 
world for a girl to fall in love with him, 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. n 

sometimes the hardest thing in the world not 
to, he was such a splendid fellow, such a 
careless, happy, handsome fellow. And he 
did not seem to mind in the least that young 
men who had grown up with him were law 
yers now, and planters, and members of 
Shakespeare clubs in town. No one ever ex 
pected anything quite so humdrum as that 
of the Santien boys. As youngsters, all three 
had been the despair of the country school 
master ; then of the private tutor who had 
come to shackle them, and had failed in his. 
design. And the state of mutiny and revolt 
that they had brought about at the college of 
Grand Coteau when their father, in a mo 
ment of weak concession to prejudice, had 
sent them there, is a thing yet remembered 
in Natchitoches. 

And now Placide was going to marry Eu- 
phrasie. He could not recall the time when 
he had not loved her. Somehow he felt that 
it began the day when he was six years old, 
and Pierre, his father s overseer, had called 
him from play to come and make her ac 
quaintance. He was permitted to hold her 
in his arms a moment, and it was with silent 
awe that he did so. She was the first white- 
faced baby he remembered having seen, and 



12 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

he straightway believed she had been sent 
to him as a birthday gift to be his little play 
mate and friend. If he loved her, there was 
no great wonder ; every one did, from the 
time she took her first dainty step, which 
was a brave one, too. 

She was the gentlest little lady ever born 
in old Natchitoches parish, and the happiest 
and merriest. She never cried or whimpered 
for a hurt. Placide never did, why should 
she ? When she wept, it was when she did 
what was wrong, or when he did ; for that 
was to be a coward, she felt. When she 
was ten, and her mother was dead, Mme. 
Duplan, the Lady Bountiful of the parish, 
had driven across from her plantation, Les 
Cheniers, to old Pierre s very door, and 
there had gathered up this precious little 
maid, and carried her away, to do with as 
she would. 

And she did with the child much as she 
herself had been done by. Euphrasie went 
to the convent soon, and was taught all gentle 
things, the pretty arts of manner and speech 
that the ladies of the " Sacred Heart " can 
teach so well. When she quitted them, she 
left a trail of love behind her ; she always 
did. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 13 

Placide continued to see her at intervals, 
and to love her always. One day he told 
her so ; he could not help it. She stood 
under one of the big oaks at Les Cheniers. 
It was midsummer time, and the tangled 
sunbeams had enmeshed her in a golden fret 
work. When he saw her standing there in 
the sun s glamour, which was like a glory 
upon her, he trembled. He seemed to see 
her for the first time. He could only look 
at her, and wonder why her hair gleamed so, 
as it fell in those thick chestnut waves about 
her ears and neck. He had looked a thou 
sand times into her eyes before ; was it only 
to-day they held that sleepy, wistful light in 
them that invites love ? How had he not 
seen it before? Why had he not known 
before that her lips were red, and cut in 
fine, strong curves ? that her flesh was like 
cream ? How had he not seen that she was 
beautiful? "Euphrasie," he said, taking 
her hands, " Euphrasie, I love you ! " 

She looked at him with a little astonish 
ment. " Yes ; I know, Placide." She spoke 
with the soft intonation of the Creole. 

" No, you don t, Euphrasie. I did n know 
myse f how much tell jus now." 

Perhaps he did only what was natural 



14 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

when he asked her next if she loved him. 
He still held her hands. She looked thought 
fully away, unready to answer. 

" Do you love anybody better ? " he asked 
jealously. " Any one jus as well as me ? " 

"You know I love papa better, Placide, 
an Mainan Duplan jus as well." 

Yet she saw no reason why she should not 
be his wife when he asked her to. 

Only a few months before this, Euphrasie 
had returned to live with her father. The 
step had cut her off from everything that 
girls of eighteen call pleasure. If it cost 
her one regret, no one could have guessed it. 
She went often to visit the Duplans, how 
ever ; and Placide had gone to bring her 
home from Les Cheniers the very day of 
Offdeaii s arrival at the plantation. 

They had traveled by rail to Natchitoches, 
where they found Pierre s no-top buggy 
awaiting them, for there was a drive of five 
miles to be made through the pine woods 
before the plantation was reached. When 
they were at their journey s end, and had 
driven some distance up the long plantation 
road that led to the house in the rear, Eu 
phrasie exclaimed : 

" Wy, there s some one on the gall ry 
with papa, Placide ! " 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 15 

" Yes ; I see." 

" It looks like some one Pom town. It 
mus be Mr. Gus Adams ; but I don see his 
horse." 

" T ain t no one f om town that I know. 
It s boun to be some one f om the city." 

" Oh, Placide, I should n wonder if Hard 
ing & Offdean have sent some one to look 
after the place at las ," she exclaimed a little 
excitedly. 

They were near enough to see that the 
stranger was a young man of very pleasing 
appearance. Without apparent reason, a 
chilly depression took hold of Placide. 

"I tole you it was n yo lookout f om 
the firs , Euphrasie," he said to her. 

IV. 

Wallace Offdean remembered Euphrasie 
at once as a young person whom he had 
assisted to a very high perch on his club 
house balcony the previous Mardi Gras 
night. He had thought her pretty and at 
tractive then, and for the space of a day or 
two wondered who she might be. But he 
had not made even so fleeting an impression 
upon her ; seeing which, he did not refer to 
any former meeting when Pierre introduced 
them. 



16 A NO- AC COUNT CREOLE. 

She took the chair which he offered her, 
and asked him very simply when he had 
come, if his journey had been pleasant, and 
if he had not found the road from Natchi- 
toches in very good condition. 

" Mr. Offde n only come sence yistiday, 
Euphrasie," interposed Pierre. " We been 
talk plenty bout de place, him an me. I 
been tole im all bout it va ! An if Mr. 
Offde n want to escuse me now, I b lieve I go 
he p Placide wid dat hoss an buggy ; " and 
he descended the steps slowly, and walked 
lazily with his bent figure in the direction of 
the shed beneath which Placide had driven, 
after depositing Euphrasie at the door. 

" I dare say you find it strange," began 
Offdean, " that the owners of this place have 
neglected it so long and shamefully. But 
you see," he added, smiling, " the manage 
ment of a plantation does n t enter into the 
routine of a commission merchant s business. 
The place has already cost them more than 
they hope to get from it, and naturally they 
have n t the wish to sink further money in 
it." He did not know why he was saying 
these things to a mere girl, but he went on : 
" I m authorized to sell the plantation if I 
can get anything like a reasonable price for 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 17 

it." Euphrasie laughed in a way that made 
him uncomfortable, and he thought he would 
say no more at present, not till he knew 
her better, anyhow. 

44 Well," she said in a very decided 
fashion, " I know you 11 fin one or two per 
sons in town who 11 begin by running down 
the Ian till you would n want it as a gif, 
Mr. Offdean ; and who will en by offering 
to take it off yo han s for the promise of a 
song, with the Ian as security again." 

They both laughed, and Placide, who was 
approaching, scowled. But before he reached 
the steps his instinctive sense of the courtesy 
due to a stranger had banished the look of 
ill humor. His bearing was so frank and 
graceful, and his face such a marvel of 
beauty, with its dark, rich coloring and soft 
lines, that the well-clipped and groomed Off- 
dean felt his astonishment to be more than 
half admiration when they shook hands. He 
knew that the Santiens had been the former 
owners of this plantation which he had come 
to look after, and naturally he expected some 
sort of cooperation or direct assistance from 
Placide in his efforts at reconstruction. But 
Placide proved non-committal, and exhibited 
an indifference and ignorance concerning the 



18 A NO-ACCOUNT CJtEOLE. 

condition of affairs that savored surprisingly 
of affectation. 

He had positively nothing to say so long 
as the talk touched upon matters concern 
ing Off dean s business there. He was only 
a little less taciturn when more general 
topics were approached, and directly after 
supper he saddled his horse and went away. 
He would not wait until morning, for the 
moon would be rising about midnight, and 
he knew the road as well by night as by 
day. He knew just where the best fords 
were across the bayous, and the safest paths 
across the hills. He knew for a certainty 
whose plantations he might traverse, and 
whose fences he might derail. But, for that 
matter, he would derail what he liked, and 
cross where he pleased. 

Euphrasie walked with him to the shed 
when he went for his horse. She was be 
wildered at his sudden determination, and 
wanted it explained. 

" I don like that man," he admitted 
frankly ; " I can t stan him. Sen me word 
w en he s gone, Euphrasie." 

She was patting and rubbing the pony, 
which knew her well. Only their dim out 
lines were discernible in the thick darkness. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 



19 



"You are foolish, 
in French. "You wowld ob better 
and help him. No c/e lgg^s^4ieWlace so 
well as you " 

"The place isn t 
to me," he answered 
hands and kissed t 
stoo 

laimed rapturously, " you 
do ilove^ mC^uphrasie ?" His arms were 
and his lips brushing her hair 
they eagerly but ineffectually 



Tothing 

ly. He took her 
passionately, but 
[er lips upon his fore- 



so 



ers. 



co se I love you, Placide. Ain t I 
going to marry you nex spring ? You fool 
ish boy ! " she replied, disengaging herself 
from his clasp. 

When he was mounted, he stooped to say, 
" See yere, Euphrasie, don t have too much 
to do with that d - Yankee." 

" But, Placide, he is n t a a d - 
Yankee ; he s a Southerner, like you, a 
New Orleans man." 

" Oh, well, he looks like a Yankee." But 
Placide laughed, for he was happy since Eu 
phrasie had kissed him, and he whistled 
softly as he urged his horse to a canter and 
disappeared in the darkness. 



20 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 



?Th( 



e girl stood awhile with clasped hands, 
trying to understand a little sigh that rose 
in her tnro^t, amj, that was not one of regret. 
When she regained the house, she went di 
rectly to her room, an left her father talking 
to Offdean in the quiet and perfumed night. 



When two weeks h^l jpass^d, Offdean 
felt very much at home with old Pierre and 
his daughter, and found the business that 
had called him to the country so engrossing 
that he had given no thought to those per 
sonal questions he had hoped to solve in 
going there. 

The old man had driven him around in the 
no-top buggy to show him how dismantled 
the fences and barns were. He could see 
for himself that the house was a constant 
menace to human life. In the evenings the 
three would sit out on the gallery and talk 
of the land and its strong points and its 
weak ones, till he came to know it as if it 
had been his own. 

Of the rickety condition of the cabins he 
got a fair notion, for he and Euphrasie 
passed them almost daily on horseback, on 
their way to the woods. It was seldom that 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 21 

their appearance together did not rouse com 
ment among the darkies who happened to 
be loitering about. 

La Chatte, a broad black woman with 
ends of white wool sticking out from under 
her tignon, stood with arms akimbo watch 
ing them as they disappeared one day. Then 
she turned and said to a young woman who 
sat in the cabin door : 

" Dat young man, ef he want to listen to 
me, he gwine quit dat ar caperin roun Miss 
Thrasie." 

The young woman in the doorway laughed, 
and showed her white teeth, and tossed her 
head, and fingered the blue beads at her 
throat, in a way to indicate that she was in 
hearty sympathy with any question that 
touched upon gallantry. 

" Law ! La Chatte, you ain gwine hinder 
a gemman f om payin intentions to a young 
lady w en he a mine to." 

"Dat all I got to say," returned La 
Chatte, seating herself lazily and heavily on 
the doorstep. " Nobody don know dem 
Sanchun boys bettah an I does. Did n I 
done part raise em? Wat you reckon my 
ha r all tu n plumb w ite dat-a-way ef it 
warn t dat Placide w at done it ? " 



22 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

" How come he make yo ha r tu n w ite, 
La Chatte?" 

" Dev ment, pu dev ment, Eose. Did n 
he come in dat same cabin one day, w eii he 
warn t no bigga an dat Pres dent Hayes 
w at you sees gwine long de road wid dat 
cotton sack crost im ? He come an sets 
down by de do , on dat same t ree-laigged 
stool w at you s a-settin on now, wid his 
gun in his han , an he say : La Chatte, I 
wants some croquignoles, an I wants em 
quick, too. I low : G way f om dah, boy. 
Don you see I s flutin yo ma s petticoat ? 
He say : La Chatte, put side dat ar flutin - 
i on an dat ar petticoat ; an he cock dat 
gun an p int it to my head. Dar de ba el, 
he say ; git out dat flour, git out dat butta 
an dat aigs; step roun dah, ole oman. 
Dis heah gun don quit yo head tell dem 
croquignoles is on de table, wid a w ite table- 
clof an a cup o coffee. Ef I goes to de 
ba el, de gun s a-p intin . Ef I goes to de 
fiah, de gun s a-p intin . Wen I rolls out 
de dough, de gun s a-p iiitin ; an him neva 
say nuttin , an me a-trim lin like ole Uncle 
Noah w eii de mis ry strike im." 

" Lordy ! w at you reckon he do ef he 
tu n roun an git mad wid dat young gem- 
man f om de city ? " 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 23 

" I don reckon nuttin ; I knows w at he 
gwine do, same w at his pa done." 

" W at his pa done, La Chatte ? " 

" G long bout yo business ; you s axin 
too many questions." And La Chatte arose 
slowly and went to gather her party-colored 
wash that hung drying on the jagged and 
irregular points of a dilapidated picket- 
fence. 

But the darkies were mistaken in suppos 
ing that Offdean was paying attention to 
Euphrasie. Those little jaunts in the wood 
were purely of a business character. Off- 
dean had made a contract with a neighbor 
ing mill for fencing, in exchange for a certain 
amount of uncut timber. He had made it 
his work with the assistance of Euphrasie 
to decide upon what trees he wanted 
felled, and to mark such for the woodman s 
axe. 

If they sometimes forgot what they had 
gone into the woods for, it was because there 
was so much to talk about and to laugh 
about. Often, when Off dean had blazed a 
tree with the sharp hatchet which he carried 
at his pommel, and had further discharged 
his duty by calling it "a fine piece of tim 
ber," they would sit upon some fallen and 



24 A NO-ACCOUNT CUE OLE. 

decaying trunk, maybe to listen to a chorus 
of mocking-birds above their heads, or to ex 
change confidences, as young people will. 

Euphrasie thought she had never heard 
any one talk quite so pleasantly as Offdean 
did. She could not decide whether it was 
his manner or the tone of his voice, or the 
earnest glance of his dark and deep-set blue 
eyes, that gave such meaning to everything 
he said ; for she found herself afterward 
thinking of his every word. 

One afternoon it rained in torrents, and 
Rose was forced to drag buckets and tubs 
into Offdean s room to catch the streams 
that threatened to flood it. Euphrasie said 
she was glad of it ; now he could see for 
himself. 

And when he had seen for himself, he 
went to join her out on a corner of the gal 
lery, where she stood with a cloak around 
her, close up against the house. He leaned 
against the house, too, and they stood thus 
together, gazing upon as desolate a scene as 
it is easy to imagine. 

The whole landscape was gray, seen 
through the driving rain. Far away the 
dreary cabins seemed to sink and sink to 
earth in abject misery. Above their heads 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 25 

the live-oak branches were beating with sad 
monotony against the blackened roof. Great 
pools of water had formed in the yard, which 
was deserted by every living thing ; for the 
little darkies had scampered away to their 
cabins, the dogs had run to their kennels, 
and the hens were puffing big with wretch 
edness under the scanty shelter of a fallen 
wagon-body. 

Certainly a situation to make a young man 
groan with ennui, if he is used to his daily 
stroll on Canal Street, and pleasant after 
noons at the club. But Off dean thought it 
delightful. He only wondered that he had 
never known, or some one had never told 
him, how charming a place an old, dismantled 
plantation can be when it rains. But as 
well as he liked it, he could not linger there 
forever. Business called him back to New 
Orleans, and after a few days he went away. 

The interest which he felt in the improve 
ment of this plantation was of so deep a 
nature, however, that he found himself think 
ing of it constantly. He wondered if the 
timber had all been felled, and how the 
fencing was coming on. So great was his 
desire to know such things that much cor 
respondence was required between himself 



26 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

and Euphrasie, and he watched eagerly for 
those letters that told him of her trials and 
vexations with carpenters, bricklayers, and 
shingle - bearers. But in the midst of it, 
Off dean suddenly lost interest in the progress 
of work on the plantation. Singularly 
enough, it happened simultaneously with the 
arrival of a letter from Euphrasie which an 
nounced in a modest postscript that she was 
going down to the city with the Duplans for 
Mardi Gras. 

VI. 

When Offdean learned that Euphrasie 
was coming to New Orleans, he was de 
lighted to think he would have an opportu 
nity to make some return for the hospitality 
which he had received from her father. He 
decided at once that she must see every 
thing : day processions and night parades, 
balls and tableaux, operas and plays. He 
would arrange for it all, and he went to the 
length of begging to be relieved of certain 
duties that had been assigned him at the 
club, in order that he might feel himself 
perfectly free to do so. 

The evening following Euphrasie s arrival, 
Offdean hastened to call upon her, away 



A NO-ACCOUNT CfiEOLE. 27 

down on Esplanade Street. She and the 
Duplans were staying there with old Mme. 
Carantelle, Mrs. Duplan s mother, a delight 
fully conservative old lady who had not 
" crossed Canal Street " for many years. 

He found a number of people gathered in 
the long high-ceiled drawing-room, young 
people and old people, all talking French, 
and some talking louder than they would 
have done if Madame Carantelle had not 
been so very deaf. 

When Offdean entered, the old lady was 
greeting some one who had come in just be 
fore him. It was Placide, and she was call 
ing him Gregoire, and wanting to know how 
the crops were up on Eed River. She met 
every one from the country with this stereo 
typed inquiry, which placed her at once on 
the agreeable and easy footing she liked. 

Somehow Offdean had not counted on 
finding Euphrasie so well provided with en 
tertainment, and he spent much of the even 
ing in trying to persuade himself that the 
fact was a pleasing one in itself. But he 
wondered why Placide was with her, and sat 
so persistently beside her, and danced so re 
peatedly with her when Mrs. Duplan played 
upon the piano. Then he could not see by 



28 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

what right these young Creoles had already 
arranged for the Proteus ball, and every other 
entertainment that he had meant to provide 
for her. 

He went away without having had a word 
alone with the girl whom he had gone to see. 
The evening had proved a failure. He did 
not go to the club as usual, but went to his 
rooms in a mood which inclined him to read 
a few pages from a stoic philosopher whom 
he sometimes affected. But the words of 
wisdom that had often before helped him 
over disagreeable places left no impress to 
night. They were powerless to banish from 
his thoughts the look of a pair of brown 
eyes, or to drown the tones of a girl s voice 
that kept singing in his soul. 

Placide was not very well acquainted with 
the city ; but that made no difference to him 
so long as he was at Euphrasie s side. His 
brother Hector, who lived in some obscure 
corner of the town, would willingly have 
made his knowledge a more intimate one ; 
but Placide did not choose to learn the les 
sons that Hector was ready to teach. He 
asked nothing better than to walk with Eu- 
phrasie along the streets, holding her parasol 
at an agreeable angle over her pretty head, 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 29 

or to sit beside her in the evening at the 
play, sharing her frank delight. 

When the night of the Mardi Gras ball 
came, he felt like a lost spirit during the 
hours he was forced to remain away from 
her. He stood in the dense crowd on the 
street gazing up at her, where she sat on the 
club - house balcony amid a bevy of gayly 
dressed women. It was not easy to distin 
guish her, but he could think of no more 
agreeable occupation than to stand down 
there on the street trying to do so. 

She seemed during all this pleasant time 
to be entirely his own, too. It made him 
very fierce to think of the possibility of her 
not being entirely his own. But he had. 
no cause whatever to think this. She had 
grown conscious and thoughtful of late about 
him and their relationship. She often com 
muned with herself, and as a result tried to 
act toward him as an engaged girl would 
toward Icier fiance. Yet a wistful look came 
sometimes into the brown eyes when she 
walked the streets with Placide, and eagerly 
scanned the faces of passers-by. 

Off dean had written her a note, very stud 
ied, very formal, asking to see her a certain 
day and hour, to consult about matters on 



30 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

the plantation, saying he had found it so 
difficult to obtain a word with her, that he 
was forced to adopt this means, which he 
trusted would not be offensive. 

This seemed perfectly right to Euphrasie. 
She agreed to see him one afternoon 
the day before leaving town in the long, 
stately drawing-room, quite alone. 

It was a sleepy day, too warm for the 
season. Gusts of moist air were sweeping 
lazily through the long corridors, rattling 
the slats of the half-closed green shutters, 
and bringing a delicious perfume from the 
courtyard where old Chariot was watering 
the spreading palms and brilliant parterres. 
A group of little children had stood awhile 
quarreling noisily under the windows, but 
had moved on down the street and left quiet 
ness reigning. 

Offdean had not long to wait before Erf- 
phrasie came to him. She had lost some of 
that ease which had marked her manner 
during their first acquaintance. Now, when 
she seated herself before him, she showed a 
disposition to plunge at once into the sub 
ject that had brought him there. He was 
willing enough that it should play some role, 
since it had been his pretext for coming ; 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 31 

but he soon dismissed it, and with it much 
restraint that had held him till now. He 
simply looked into her eyes, with a gaze that 
made her shiver a little, and began to com 
plain because she was going away next day 
and he had seen nothing of her ; because he 
had wanted to do so many things when she 
came why had she not let him ? 

" You fo get I m no stranger here," she 
told him. " I know many people. I ve 
been coming so often with Mme. Duplan. 
I wanted to see mo of you, Mr. Off dean " 

" Then you ought to have managed it ; 
you could have done so. It s it s aggra 
vating," he said, far more bitterly than the 
subject warranted, " when a man has so set 
his heart upon something." 

" But it was 11 anything ver important," 
she interposed ; and they both laughed, and 
got safely over a situation that would soon 
have been strained, if not critical. 

Waves of happiness were sweeping through 
the soul and body of the girl as she sat there 
in the drowsy afternoon near the man whom 
she loved. It mattered not what they talked 
about, or whether they talked at all. They 
were both scintillant with feeling. If Off- 
dean had taken Euphrasie s hands in his 



32 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

and leaned forward and kissed her lips, it 
would have seemed to both only tlje rational 
outcome of things that stirred them. But 
he did not do this. He knew now that over 
whelming passion was taking possession of 
him. He had not to heap more coals upon 
the fire ; on the contrary, it was a moment 
to put on the brakes, and he was a young 
gentleman able to do this when circum 
stances required. 

However, he held her hand longer than he 
needed to when he bade her good-by. For 
he got entangled in explaining why he should 
have to go back to the plantation to see how 
matters stood there, and he dropped her hand 
only when the rambling speech was ended. 

He left her sitting by the window in a big 
brocaded armchair. She drew the lace cur 
tain aside to watch him pass in the street. 
He lifted his hat and smiled when he saw 
her. Any other man she knew would have 
done the same thing, but this simple act 
caused the blood to surge to her cheeks. She 
let the curtain drop, and sat there like one 
dreaming. Her eyes, intense with the un 
natural light that glowed in them, looked 
steadily into vacancy, and her lips stayed 
parted in the half -smile that did not want to 
leave them. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 33 

Placide found her thus, a good while after 
ward, when he came in, full of bustle, with 
theatre tickets in his pocket for the last 
night. She started up, and went eagerly to 
meet him. 

" Were have you been, Placide ? " she 
asked with unsteady voice, placing her hands 
on his shoulders with a freedom that was 
new and strange to him. 

He appeared to her suddenly as a refuge 
from something, she did not know what, and 
she rested her hot cheek against his breast. 
This made him mad, and he lifted her face 
and kissed her passionately upon the lips. 

She crept from his arms after that, and 
went away to her room, and locked herself 
in. Her poor little inexperienced soul was 
torn and sore. She knelt down beside her 
bed, and sobbed a little and prayed a little. 
She felt that she had sinned, she did not 
know exactly in what ; but a fine nature 
warned her that it was in Placide s kiss. 

VII. 

The spring came early in Orville, and so 
subtly that no one could tell exactly when 
it began. But one morning the roses were 
so luscious in Placide s sunny parterres, the 



34 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

peas and bean-vines and borders of strawber 
ries so rank in his trim vegetable patches, 
that he called out lustily, " No mo winta, 
Judge ! " to the staid Judge Blount, who 
went ambling by on his gray pony. 

" There s right smart o folks don t know 
it, Santien," responded the judge, with occult 
meaning that might be applied to certain in 
debted clients back on the bayou who had 
not broken land yet. Ten minutes later the 
judge observed sententiously, and apropos of 
nothing, to a group that stood waiting for 
the post-office to open : 

" I see Santien s got that noo fence o his 
painted. And a pretty piece o work it is," 
he added reflectively. 

" Look lack Placide goin pent mo an de 
fence," sagaciously snickered Tit-Edouard, 
a strolling maigre-echine of indefinite occu 
pation. " I seen im, me, pesterin wid all 
kine o pent on a piece o bo d yistiday." 

" I knows he gwine paint mo an de 
fence," emphatically announced Uncle Ab- 
ner, in a tone that carried conviction. 
" He gwine paint de house ; dat what he 
gwine do. Did n Marse Luke Williams 
orda de paints ? An did n I done kyar 
em up dah myse f ? " 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 35 

Seeing the deference with which this posi 
tive piece of knowledge was received, the 
judge coolly changed the subject by an 
nouncing that Luke Williams s Durham bull 
had broken a leg the night before in Luke s 
new pasture ditch, a piece of news that fell 
among his hearers with telling, if paralytic 
effect 

But most people wanted to see for them 
selves these astonishing things that Placide 
was doing. And the young ladies of the 
village strolled slowly by of afternoons in 
couples and arm in arm. If Placide hap 
pened to see them, he would leave his work 
to hand them a fine rose or a bunch of gera 
niums over the dazzling white fence. But 
if it chanced to be Tit-Edouard or Luke 
Williams, or any of the young men of Or- 
ville, he pretended not to see them, or to 
hear the ingratiating cough that accompanied 
their lingering footsteps. 

In his eagerness to have his home sweet 
and attractive for Euphrasie s coming, Pla 
cide had gone less frequently than ever be 
fore up to Natchitoches. He worked and 
whistled and sang until the yearning for the 
girl s presence became a driving need ; then 
he would put away his tools and mount his 



36 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

horse as the day was closing, and away he 
would go across bayous and hills and fields 
until he was with her again. She had never 
seemed to Placide so lovable as she was then. 
She had grown more womanly and thought 
ful. Her cheek had lost much of its color, 
and the light in her eyes flashed less often. 
But her manner had gained a something of 
pathetic tenderness toward her lover that 
moved him with an intoxicating happiness. 
He could hardly wait with patience for that 
day in early April which would see the ful 
fillment of his lifelong hopes. 

After Euphrasie s departure from New 
Orleans, Offdean told himself honestly that 
he loved the girl. But being yet unsettled in 
life, he felt it was no time to think of mar 
rying, and, like the worldly-wise young gen 
tleman that he was, resolved to forget the 
little Natchitoches girl. He knew it would 
be an affair of some difficulty, but not an im 
possible thing, so he set about forgetting her. 

The effort made him singularly irascible. 
At the office he was gloomy and taciturn ; 
at the club he was a bear. A few young 
ladies whom he called upon were astonished 
and distressed at the cynical views of life 
which he had so suddenly adopted. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 37 

When he had endured a week or more of 
such humor, and inflicted it upon others, he 
abruptly changed his tactics. He decided 
not to fight against his love for Euphrasie. 
He would not marry her, certainly not ; 
but he would let himself love her to his 
heart s bent, until that love should die a 
natural death, and not a violent one as he 
had designed. He abandoned himself com 
pletely to his passion, and dreamed of the 
girl by day and thought of her by night. 
How delicious had been the scent of her 
hair, the warmth of her breath, the nearness 
of her body, that rainy day when they stood 
close together upon the veranda ! He re 
called the glance of her honest, beautiful 
eyes, that told him things which made his 
heart beat fast now when he thought of 
them. And then her voice ! Was there 
another like it when she laughed or when 
she talked ! Was there another woman in 
the world possessed of so alluring a charm 
as this one he loved ! 

He was not bearish now, with these sweet 
thoughts crowding his brain and thrilling 
his blood ; but he sighed deeply, and worked 
languidly, and enjoyed himself listlessly. 

One day he sat in his room puffing the 



38 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

air thick with sighs and smoke, when a 
thought came suddenly to him an inspira 
tion, a very message from heaven, to judge 
from the cry of joy with which he greeted 
it. He sent his cigar whirling through the 
window, over the stone paving of the street, 
and he let his head fall down upon his arms, 
folded upon the table. 

It had happened to him, as it does to 
many, that the solution of a vexed question 
flashed upon him when he was hoping least 
for it. He positively laughed aloud, and 
somewhat hysterically. In the space of a 
moment he saw the whole delicious future 
which a kind fate had mapped out for him : 
those rich acres upon the Red River his own, 
bought and embellished with his inheritance ; 
and Euphrasie, whom he loved, his wife and 
companion throughout a life such as he 
knew now he had craved for, a life that, 
imposing bodily activity, admits the intel 
lectual repose in which thought unfolds. 

Wallace Offdean was like one to whom a 
divinity had revealed his vocation in life, 
no less a divinity because it was love. If 
doubts assailed him of Euphrasie s consent, 
they were soon stilled. For had they not 
spoken over and over to each other the mute 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 39 

and subtile language of reciprocal love out 
under the forest trees, and in the quiet night 
time on the plantation when the stars shone ? 
And never so plainly as in the stately old 
drawing-room down 011. Esplanade Street. 
Surely no other speech was needed then, 
save such as their eyes told. Oh, he knew 
that she loved him ; he was sure of it ! The 
knowledge made him all the more eager now 
to hasten to her, to tell her that he wanted 
her for his very own. 

VIII. 

If Offdean had stopped in Natchitoches 
on his way to the plantation, he would have 
heard something there to astonish him, to 
say the very least ; for the whole town was 
talking of Euphrasie s wedding, which was 
to take place in a few days. But he did not 
linger. After securing a horse at the stable, 
he pushed on with all the speed of which 
the animal was capable, and only in such 
company as his eager thoughts afforded him. 

The plantation was very quiet, with that 
stillness which broods over broad, clean 
acres that furnish no refuge for so much as 
a bird that sings. The negroes were scat 
tered about the fields at work, with hoe and 



40 A NO -AC COUNT CREOLE. 

plow, under the sun, and old Pierre, on his 
horse, was far off in the midst of them. 

Placide had arrived in the morning, after 
traveling all night, and had gone to his room 
for an hour or two of rest. He had drawn 
the lounge close up to the window to get 
what air he might through the closed shut 
ters. He was just beginning to doze when 
he heard Euphrasie s light footsteps ap 
proaching. She stopped and seated herself 
so near that he could have touched her if he 
had but reached out his hand. Her nearness 
banished all desire to sleep, and he lay there 
content to rest his limbs and think of her. 

The portion of the gallery on which Eu- 
phrasie sat was facing the river, and away 
from the road by which Offdean had reached 
the house. After fastening his horse, he 
mounted the steps, and traversed the broad 
hall that intersected the house from end to 
end, and that was open wide. He found 
Euphrasie engaged upon a piece of sewing. 
She was hardly aware of his presence before 
he had sea,ted himself beside her. 

She could not speak. She only looked at 
him with frightened eyes, as if his presence 
were that of some disembodied spirit. 

" Are you not glad that I have come ? " 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 41 

he asked her. " Have I made a mistake in 
coming?" He was gazing into her eyes, 
seeking to read the meaning of their new. 
and strange expression. 

" Am I glad ? " she faltered. " I don 
know. Wat has that to do ? You ve 
come to see the work, of co se. It s it s 
only half done, Mr. Offdean. They would n 
listen to me or to papa, an you did n seem 
to care." 

" I have n t come to see the work," he 
said, with a smile of love and confidence. 
" I am here only to see you, to say how 
much I want you, and need you to tell you 
how I love you." 

She rose, half choking with words she 
could not utter. But he seized her hands 
and held her there. 

" The plantation is mine, Euphrasie, or 
it will be when you say that you will be my 
wife," he went on excitedly. " I know that 
you love me " 

" I do not ! " she exclaimed wildly. " Wat 
do you mean? How do you dare," she 
gasped, " to say such things w en you know 
that in two days I shall be married to Pla- 
cide ? " The last was said in a whisper ; it 
was like a wail. 



42 A NO- AC COUNT CREOLE. 

" Married to Placide ! " he echoed, as if 
striving to understand, to grasp some part 
of his own stupendous folly and blindness. 
" I knew nothing of it," he said hoarsely. 
" Married to Placide ! I would never have 
spoken to you as I did, if I -had known. 
You believe me, I hope? Please say that 
you forgive me." 

He spoke with long silences between his 
utterances. 

" Oh, there is n anything to fo give. 
You ve only made a mistake. Please leave 
me, Mr. Offdean. Papa is out in the fieF, 
I think, if you would like to speak with him. 
Placide is somew ere on the place." 

" I shall mount my horse and go see what 
work has been done," said Offdean, rising. 
An unusual pallor had overspread his face, 
and his mouth was drawn with suppressed 
pain. " I must turn my fool s errand to 
some practical good," he added, with a sad 
attempt at playfulness ; and with no further 
word he walked quickly away. 

She listened to his going. Then all the 
wretchedness of the past months, together 
with the sharp distress of the moment, 
voiced itself in a sob : " O God O my 
God, he p me ! " 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 43 

But she could not stay out there in the 
broad day for any chance comer to look upon 
her uncovered sorrow. 

Placid e heard her rise and go to her room. 
When he had heard the key turn in the lock, 
he got up, and with quiet deliberation pre 
pared to go out. He drew on his boots, then 
his coat. He took his pistol from the dress 
ing-bureau, where he had placed it a while 
before, and after examining its chambers 
carefully, thrust it into his pocket. He had 
certain work to do with the weapon before 
night. But for Euphrasie s presence he 
might have accomplished it very surely a 
moment ago, when the hound as he called 
him stood outside his window. He did 
not wish her to know anything of his move 
ments, and he left his room as quietly as pos 
sible, and mounted his horse, as Offdean had 
done. 

" La Chatte," called Placide to the old 
woman, who stood in her yard at the wash- 
tub, " w ich way did that man go ? " 

" Wat man dat ? I is n studyin bout 
no mans ; I got nough to do wid dis heah 
washin . To God, I don know w at man 
you s talkin bout " 

" La Chatte, w ich way did that man go ? 



44 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

Quick, now! " with the deliberate tone and 
glance that had always quelled her. 

" Ef you s talkin bout dat Noo Orleans 
man, I could a tole you dat. He done tuck 
de road to de cocoa-patch," plunging her 
black arms into the tub with unnecessary 
energy and disturbance. 

" That s enough. I know now he s gone 
into the woods. You always was a liar, La 
Chatte." 

" Dat his own lookout, de smoove-tongue 
raskil," soliloquized the woman a moment 
later. " I done said he did n have no call 
to come heah, caperin roun Miss Phrasie." 

Placide was possessed by only one thought, 
which was a want as well, to put an end 
to this man who had come between him and 
his love. It was the same brute passion that 
drives the beast to slay when he sees the 
object of his own desire laid hold of by an 
other. 

He had heard Euphrasie tell the man she 
did not love him, but what of that? Had 
he not heard her sobs, and guessed what her 
distress was? It needed no very flexible 
mind to guess as much, when a hundred 
signs besides, unheeded before, came surging 
to his memory. Jealousy held him, and rage 
and despair. 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 45 

Offdean, as he rode along under the trees 
in apathetic despondency, heard some one 
approaching him on horseback, and turned 
aside to make room in the narrow path 
way. 

It was not a moment for punctilious 
scruples, and Placide had not been hindered 
by such from sending a bullet into the back 
of his rival. The only thing that stayed him 
was that Offdean must know why he had to 
die. 

" Mr. Offdean," Placide said, reining his 
horse with one hand, while he held his pistol 
openly in the other, " I was in my room 
w ile ago, and yeared w at you said to 
Euphrasie. I would a killed you then if 
she had n been longside o you. I could 
a killed you jus now w en I come up behine 
you." 

"Well, why did n t you?" asked Off- 
dean, meanwhile gathering his faculties to 
think how he had best deal with this mad 
man. 

" Because I wanted you to know who done 
it, an w at he done it for." 

" Mr. Santien, I suppose to a person in 
your frame of mind it will make no differ 
ence to know that I m unarmed. But if 



46 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

you make any attempt upon my life, I shall 
certainly defend myself as best I can." 

" Defen yo se f, then." 

" You must be mad," said Offdean, 
quickly, and looking straight into Placide s 
eyes, " to want to soil your happiness with 
murder. I thought a Creole knew better 
than that how to love a woman." 

" By ! are you goin to learn me how 

to love a woman ? " 

"No, Placide," said Offdean eagerly, as 
they rode slowly along ; " your own honor is 
going to tell you that. The way to love a 
woman is to think first of her happiness. If 
you love Euphrasie, you must go to her 
clean. I love her myself enough to want 
you to do that. I shall leave this place to 
morrow ; you will never see me again if I 
can help it. Is n t that enough for you? 
I m going to turn here and leave you. 
Shoot me in the back if you like ; but I 
know you won t." And Offdean held out 
his hand. 

" I don want to shake han s with you," 
said Placide sulkily. " Go way f om me." 

He stayed motionless watching Offdean 
ride away. He looked at the pistol in his 
hand, and replaced it slowly in his pocket ; 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE, 47 

then he removed the broad felt hat which he 
wore, and wiped away the moisture that had 
gathered upon his forehead. 

Offdean s words had touched some chord 
within him and made it vibrant ; but they 
made him hate the man no less. 

" The way to love a woman is to think 
firs of her happiness," he muttered reflec 
tively. " He thought a Creole knew how to 
love. Does he reckon he s goin to learn a 
Creole how to love ? " 

His face was white and set with despair 
now. The rage had all left it as he rode 
deeper on into the wood. 

IX. 

Offdean rose early, wishing to take the 
morning train to the city. But he was not 
before Euphrasie, whom he found in the 
large hall arranging the breakfast-table. 
Old Pierre was there too, walking slowly 
about with hands folded behind him, and 
with bowed head. 

A restraint hung upon all of them, and 
the girl turned to her father and asked him 
if Placide were up, seemingly for want of 
something to say. The old man fell heavily 
into a chair, and gazed upon her in the deep 
est distress. 



48 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

" Oh, my po li le Euphrasie ! my po li le 
chile ! Mr. Offde ii, you ain t no stranger." 

"Bon Dieu! Papa!" cried the girl 
sharply, seized with a vague terror. She 
quitted her occupation at the table, and 
stood in nervous apprehension of what might 
follow. 

" I yaired people say Placide was one no- 
count Creole. I nevairwant to believe dat, 
me. Now I know dat s true. Mr. Offde n, 
you ain t no stranger, you." 

Offdean was gazing upon the old man in 
amazement. 

" In de night," Pierre continued, " I 
yaired some noise on de winder. I go open, 
an dere Placide, standin wid his big boot 
on, an his w ip w at he knocked wid on de 
winder, an his hoss all saddle . Oh, my po 
li le chile ! He say, Pierre, I yaired say 
Mr. Luke William want his house pent 
down in Orville. I reckon I go git de job 
befo somebody else teck it. I say, You 
come straight back, Placide ? He say, 
Don look fer me. An w en I ax im w at 
I goin tell to my li le chile, he say, Tell 
Euphrasie Placide know better an anybody 
livin w at goin make her happy. An he 
start way ; den he come back an say, Tell 



A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 49 

dat man I don know who he was talk 
bout " tell im he ain t goiii learn nuttin 
to a Creole. Mon Dieu ! Mon Dieu ! I 
don know w at all dat mean." 

He was holding the half -fainting Euphra- 
sie in his arms, and stroking her hair. 

" I always yaired say he was one no- count 
Creole. I nevair want to believe dat." 

" Don t don t say that again, papa," she 
whisperingly entreated, speaking in French. 
u Placide has saved me ! " 

" He has save you f om w at, Euphrasie ? " 
asked her father, in dazed astonishment. 

" From sin," she replied to him under her 
breath. 

"I don know w at all dat mean," the old 
man muttered, bewildered, as he arose and 
walked out on the gallery. 

Offdean had taken coffee in his room, and 
would not wait for breakfast. When he 
went to bid Euphrasie good-by, she sat be 
side the table with her head bowed upon her 
arm. 

He took her hand and said good-by to her, 
but she did not look up. 

" Euphrasie," he asked eagerly, " I may 
come back ? Say that I may after a 
while." 



50 A NO-ACCOUNT CREOLE. 

She gave him no answer, and he leaned 
down and pressed his cheek caressingly and 
entreatingly against her soft thick hair. 

" May I, Euphrasie ? " he begged. " So 
long as you do not tell me no, I shall come 
back, dearest one." 

She still made him no reply, but she did 
not tell him no. 

So he kissed her hand and her cheek, 
what he could touch of it, that peeped out 
from her folded arm, and went away. 

An hour later, when Offdean passed 
through Natchitoches, the old town was al 
ready ringing with the startling news that 
Placide had been dismissed by his fiancee, 
and the wedding was off, information which 
the young Creole was taking the trouble to 
scatter broadcast as he went. 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHI- 
TOCHES. 

PRECISELY at eight o clock every morn 
ing except Saturdays and Sundays, Made 
moiselle Suzanne St. Denys Godolph would 
cross the railroad trestle that spanned Bayou 
Boispourri. She might have crossed in the 
flat which Mr. Alphonse Laballiere kept 
for his own convenience; but the method 
was slow and unreliable ; so, every morning 
at eight, Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph 
crossed the trestle. 

She taught public school in a picturesque 
little white frame structure that stood upon 
Mr. Laballiere s land, and hung upon the 
very brink of the bayou. 

Laballiere himself was comparatively a 
new-comer in the parish. It was barely six 
months since he decided one day to leave 
the sugar and rice to his brother Alcee, who 
had a talent for their cultivation, and to try 
his hand at cotton-planting. That was why 
he was up in Natchitoches parish on a piece 
of rich, high., Cane River land, knocking 



52 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

into shape a turnbled-down plantation that 
he had bought for next to nothing. 

He had often during his perambulations 
observed the trim, graceful figure stepping 
cautiously over the ties, and had sometimes 
shivered for its safety. He always ex 
changed a greeting with the girl, and once 
threw a plank over a muddy pool for her to 
step upon. He caught but glimpses of her 
features, for she wore an enormous sun-bon 
net to shield her complexion, that seemed 
marvelously fair ; while loosely - fitting 
leather gloves protected her hands. He 
knew she was the school-teacher, and also 
that she was the daughter of that very pig 
headed old Madame St. Denys Godolph 
who was hoarding her barren acres across 
the bayou as a miser hoards gold. Starving 
over them, some people said. But that was 
nonsense ; nobody starves on a Louisiana 
plantation, unless it be with suicidal intent. 

These things he knew, but he did not 
know why Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph 
always answered his salutation with an air 
of chilling hauteur that would easily have 
paralyzed a less sanguine man. 

The reason was that Suzanne, like every 
one else, had heard the stories that were 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 53 

going the* rounds about him. People said 
he was entirely too much at home with the 
free mulattoes. 1 It seems a dreadful thing 
to say, and it would be a shocking thing to 
think of a Laballire ; but it was n t true. 

When Laballiere took possession of his 
land, he found the plantation-house occupied 
by one Giestiii and his swarming family. 
It was past reckoning how long the free 
mulatto and his people had been there. The 
house was a six-room, long, shambling affair, 
shrinking together from decrepitude. There 
was not an entire pane of glass in the struc 
ture ; and the Turkey-red curtains flapped in 
and out of the broken apertures. But there 
is no need to dwell upon details ; it was 
wholly unfit to serve as a civilized human 
habitation ; and Alphonse Laballiere would 
no sooner have disturbed its contented oc 
cupants than he would have scattered a 
family of partridges nesting in a corner of 
his field. He established himself with a 
few belongings in the best cabin he could 
find on the place, and, without further ado, 
proceeded to supervise the building of house, 

1 A term still applied in Louisiana to mulattoes who 
were never in slavery, and whose families in most in 
stances were themselves slave owners. 



54 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 

of gin, of this, that, and the other, and to 
look into the hundred details that go to 
set a neglected plantation in good work 
ing order. He took his meals at the free 
mulatto s, quite apart from the family, of 
course ; and they attended, not too skill 
fully, to his few domestic wants. 

Some loafer whom he had snubbed re 
marked one day in town that Laballiere had 
more use for a free mulatto than he had for 
a white man. It was a sort of catching 
thing to say, and suggestive, and was re 
peated with the inevitable embellishments. 

One morning when Laballiere sat eating 
his solitary breakfast, and being waited 
upon by the queenly Madame Giestin and a 
brace of her weazened boys, Giestin himself 
came into the room. He was about half the 
size of his wife, puny and timid. He stood 
beside the table, twirling his felt hat aim 
lessly and balancing himself insecurely on 
his high-pointed boot-heels. 

" Mr. Laballiere," he said, " I reckon I 
tell you ; it s betta you git shed o me en 
my fambly. Jis like you want, yas." 

" What in the name of common sense are 
you talking about ? " asked Laballiere, look 
ing up abstractedly from his New Orleans 
paper. Giestin wriggled uncomfortably. 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 55 

" It s heap o story goin roun bout 
you, if you want b lieve me." And he 
snickered and looked at his wife, who thrust 
the end of her shawl into her mouth and 
walked from the room with a tread like the 
Empress Eugenie s, in that elegant woman s 
palmiest days. 

" Stories ! " echoed Laballiere, his face 
the picture of astonishment. " Who 
where what stories ? " 

" Yon a in town en all about. It s heap 
o tale goin roun , yas. They say how come 
you mighty fon o mulatta. You done sho- 
shiate wid de mulatta down yon a on de suga 
plantation, tell you can t res lessen it s 
mulatta roun you." 

Laballiere had a distressingly quick tem 
per. His fist, which was a strong one, came 
down upon the wobbling table with a crash 
that sent half of Madame Giestin s crockery 
bouncing and crashing to the floor. He 
swore an oath that sent Madame Giestin and 
her father and grandmother, who were all 
listening in the next room, into suppressed 
convulsions of mirth. 

" Oh, ho ! so I m not to associate with 
whom I please in Natchitoches parish. We 11 
see about that. Draw up your chair, Gies- 



56 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

tin. Call your wife and your grandmother 
and the rest of the tribe, and we 11 break 
fast together. By thunder ! if I want to 
hobnob with mulattoes, or negroes or Choc- 
taw Indians or South Sea savages, whose 
business is it but my own ? " 

"I don know, me. It s jis like I tell 
you, Mr. Laballiere," and Giestin selected 
a huge key from an assortment that hung 
against the wall, and left the room. 

A half hour later, Laballiere had not yet 
recovered his senses. He appeared suddenly 
at the door of the schoolhouse, holding by 
the shoulder one of Giestin s boys. Made 
moiselle St. Denys Godolph stood at the 
opposite extremity of the room. Her sun- 
bonnet hung upon the wall, now, so Labal 
liere could have seen how charming she was, 
had he not at the moment been blinded by 
stupidity. Her blue eyes that were fringed 
with dark lashes reflected astonishment at 
seeing him there. Her hair was dark like 
her lashes, and waved softly about her 
smooth, white forehead. 

" Mademoiselle," began Laballiere at once, 
" I have taken the liberty of bringing a new 
pupil to you." 

Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph paled 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCIIITOCHES. 57 

suddenly and her voice was unsteady when 
she replied : 

" You are too considerate, Monsieur. Will 
you be so kine to give me the name of the 
scholar whom you desire to int oduce into 
this school ? " She knew it as well as he. 

" What s your name, youngster ? Out 
with it ! " cried Laballiere, striving to shake 
the little free mulatto into speech ; but he 
stayed as dumb as a mummy. 

" His name is Andre* Giestin. You know 
him. He is the son " 

" Then, Monsieur," she interrupted, " per 
mit me to remine you that you have made a 
se ious mistake. This is not a school con 
ducted f o the education of the colored popu 
lation. You will have to go elsew ere with 
yo protege." 

" I shall leave my protege right here, 
Mademoiselle, and I trust you 11 give him 
the same kind attention you seem to accord 
to the others ; " saying which Laballiere 
bowed himself out of her presence. The lit 
tle Giestin, left to his own devices, took only 
the time to give a quick, wary glance round 
the room, and the next instant he bounded 
through the open door, as the nimblest of 
four-footed creatures might have done. 



58 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 

Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph con 
ducted school during the hours that remained, 
with a deliberate calmness that Would have 
seemed ominous to her pupils, had they been 
better versed in the ways of young women. 
When the hour for dismissal came, she 
rapped upon the table to demand attention. 

"Chil ren," she began, assuming a re 
signed and dignified mien, "you all have 
been witness to-day of the insult that has 
been offered to yo teacher by the person 
upon whose Ian this schoolhouse stan s. I 
have nothing further to say on that subjec . 
I only shall add that to-morrow yo teacher 
shall sen the key of this schoolhouse, to 
gether with her resignation, to the gentlemen 
who compose the school-boa d." There fol 
lowed visible disturbance among the young 
people. 

" I ketch that li le m latta, I make im see 
sight , yas," screamed one. 

" Nothing of the kine, Ma^thurin, you mus 
take no such step, if only out of considera 
tion fo my wishes. The person who has 
offered the affront I consider beneath my 
notice. Andre, on the other han , is a chile 
of good impulse, an by no means to blame. 
As you all perceive, he has shown mo taste 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 59 

and judgment than those above him, f om 
whom we might have espected good breed 
ing, at least." 

She kissed them all, the little boys and 
the little girls, and had a kind word for 
each. " Et toi, mon petit Numa, j espere 
qu un autre " She could not finish the 
sentence, for little Numa, her favorite, to 
whom she had never been able to impart 
the first word of English, was blubbering at 
a turn of affairs which he had only misera 
bly guessed at. 

She locked the schoolhouse door and 
walked away towards the bridge. By the 
time she reached it, the little Cadians had 
already disappeared like rabbits, down the 
road and through and over the fences. 

Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph did not 
cross the trestle the following day, nor the 
next nor the next. Laballi&re watched for 
her ; for his big heart was already sore and 
filled with shame. But more, it stung him 
with remorse to realize that he had been the 
stupid instrument in taking the bread, as it 
were, from the mouth of Mademoiselle St. 
Denys Godolph. 

He recalled how unflinchingly and haugh 
tily her blue eyes had challenged his own. 



60 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

Her sweetness and charm came back to him 
and he dwelt upon them and exaggerated 
them, till no Venus, so far unearthed, could 
in any way approach Mademoiselle St. Denys 
Godolph. He would have liked to exter 
minate the Giestin family, from the great- 
grandmother down to the babe unborn. 

Perhaps Giesten suspected this unfavora 
ble attitude, for one morning he piled his 
whole family and all his effects into wagons, 
and went away ; over into that part of the 
parish known as Vide des Mulatres. 

Laballiere s really chivalrous nature told 
him, beside, that he owed an apology, at 
least, to the young lady who had taken his 
whim so seriously. So he crossed the bayou 
one day and penetrated into the wilds where 
Madame St. Denys Godolph ruled. 

An alluring little romance formed in his 
mind as he went ; he fancied how easily it 
might follow the apology. He was almost 
in love with Mademoiselle St. Denys Go 
dolph when he quitted his plantation. By 
the time he had reached hers, he was wholly 
so. 

He was met by Madame mere, a sweet- 
eyed, faded woman, upon whom old age had 
fallen too hurriedly to completely efface all 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 61 

traces of youth. But the house was old be 
yond question ; decay had eaten slowly to 
the heart of it during the hours, the days, 
and years that it had been standing. 

"I have come to see your daughter, ma- 
dame," began Laballiere, all too bluntly ; 
for there is no denying he was blunt. 

" Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph is not 
presently at home, sir," madame replied. 
" She is at the time in New Orleans. She 
fills there a place of high trus an employ 
ment, Monsieur Laballiere." 

When Suzanne had ever thought of New 
Orleans, it was always in connection with 
Hector Santien, because he was the only 
soul she knew who dwelt there. He had 
had no share in obtaining for her the posi 
tion she had secured with one of the leading 
dry-goods firms ; yet it was to him she ad 
dressed herself when her arrangements to 
leave home were completed. 

He did not wait for her train to reach the 
city, but crossed the river and met her at 
Gretna. The first thing he did was to kiss 
her, as he had done eight years before when 
he left Natchitoches parish. An hour later 
he would no more have thought of kissing 



62 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

Suzanne than he would have tendered an 
embrace to the Empress of China. For by 
that time he had realized that she was no 
longer twelve nor he twenty-four. 

She could hardly believe the man who 
met her to be the Hector of old. His black 
hair was dashed with gray on the temples ; 
he wore a short, parted beard and a small 
moustache that curled. From the crown of 
his glossy silk hat down to his trimly-gai- 
tered feet, his attire was faultless. Suzanne 
knew her Natchitoches, and she had been to 
Shreveport and even penetrated as far as 
Marshall, Texas, but in all her travels she 
had never met a man to equal Hector in the 
elegance of his mien. 

They entered a cab, and seemed to drive 
for an interminable time through the streets, 
mostly over cobble-stones that rendered con 
versation difficult. Nevertheless he talked 
incessantly, while she peered from the win 
dows to catch what glimpses she could, 
through the night, of that New Orleans of 
which she had heard so much. The sounds 
were bewildering : so were the lights, that 
were uneven, too, serving to make the patches 
of alternating gloom more mysterious. 

She had not thought of asking him where 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 63 

he was taking her. And it was only after 
they crossed Canal and had penetrated some 
distance into Royal Street, that he told her. 
He was taking her to a friend of his, the 
dearest little woman in town. That was 
Mam an Chavan, who was going to board 
and lodge her for a ridiculously small con 
sideration. 

Maman Chavan lived within comfortable 
walking distance of Canal Street, on one of 
those narrow, intersecting streets between 
Royal and Chartres. Her house was a tiny, 
single -story one, with overhanging gable, 
heavily shuttered door and windows and 
three wooden steps leading down to the ban 
quette. A small garden flanked it on one 
side, quite screened from outside view by a 
high fence, over which appeared the tops of 
orange trees and other luxuriant shrubbery. 

She was waiting for them a lovable, 
fresh-looking, white-haired, black-eyed, small, 
fat little body, dressed all in black. She 
understood no English ; which made no 
difference. Suzanne and Hector spoke but 
French to each other. 

Hector did not tarry a moment longer 
than was needed to place his young friend 
and charge in the older woman s care. He 



64 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

would not even stay to take a bite of supper 
with them. Maman Chavan watched him as 
he hurried down the steps and out into the 
gloom. Then she said to Suzanne : " That 
man is an angel, Mademoiselle, un ange du 
bon Dieu." 

" Women, my dear Maman Chavan, you 
know how it is with me in regard to women. 
I have drawn a circle round my heart, so 
at pretty long range, mind you and there 
-is not one who gets through it, or over it or 
under it." 

" Blagueur^ va ! " laughed Maman Cha 
van, replenishing her glass from the bottle 
of sauterne. 

It was Sunday morning. They were 
breakfasting together on the pleasant side 
gallery that led by a single step down to 
the garden. Hector came every Sunday 
morning, an hour or so before noon, to 
breakfast with them. He always brought a 
bottle of sauterne, a pate, or a mess of arti 
chokes or some tempting bit of charcuterie. 
Sometimes he had to wait till the two women 
returned from hearing mass at the cathe 
dral. He did not go to mass himself. They 
were both making a Novena on that account, 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 65 

and had even gone to the expense of burn 
ing a round dozen of candles before the 
good St. Joseph, for his conversion. When 
Hector accidentally discovered the fact, he 
offered to pay for the candles, and was dis 
tressed at not being permitted to do so. 

Suzanne had been in the city more than a 
month. It was already the close of Febru 
ary, and the air was flower-scented, moist, 
and deliciously mild. 

"As I said: women, my dear Maman 
Chavan " 

" Let us hear no more about women ! " 
cried Suzanne, impatiently. " CherMaitre! 
but Hector can be tiresome when he wants. 
Talk, talk ; to say what in the end? " 

" Quite right, my cousin ; when I might 
have been saying how charming you are this 
morning. But don t think that I have n t 
noticed it," and he looked at her with a delib 
eration that quite unsettled her. She took a 
letter from her pocket and handed it to him. 

" Here, read all the nice things mamma 
has to say of you, and the love messages she 
sends to you." He accepted the several 
closely written sheets from her and began to 
look over them. 

" Ah, la bonne tante" he laughed, when 



. 



66 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

he came to the tender passages that referred 
to himself. He had pushed aside the glass 
of wine that he had only partly filled at 
the beginning of breakfast and that he had 
scarcely touched. Maman Chavan again re 
plenished her own. She also lighted a cigar 
ette. So did Suzanne, who was learning to 
smoke. Hector did not smoke ; he did not 
use tobacco in any form, he always said to 
those who offered him cigars. 

Suzanne rested her elbows on the table, 
adjusted the ruffles about her wrists, puffed 
awkwardly at her cigarette that kept going- 
out, and hummed the Kyrie Eleison that she 
had heard so beautifully rendered an hour 
before at the Cathedral, while she gazed off 
into the green depths of the garden. Ma 
man Chavan slipped a little silver medal to 
ward her, accompanying the action with a 
pantomime that Suzanne readily understood. 
She, in turn, secretly and adroitly trans 
ferred the medal to Hector s coat-pocket. 
He noticed the action plainly enough, but 
pretended not to. 

" Natchitoches has n t changed," he com 
mented. " The everlasting can-cans ! when 
will they have done with them ? This is n t 
little Athenaise Miche, getting married ! 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 67 

Sapristi ! but it makes one old ! And old 
Papa Jean-Pierre only dead now ? I thought 
he was out of purgatory five years ago. And 
who is this Laballiere ? One of the Labal- 
lieresof St. James?" 

"St. James, mon cher. Monsieur Al- 
phonse Laballiere ; an aristocrat from the 
4 golden coast. But it is a history, if you 
will believe me. Figures vous, Maman 
Chavan, pensez done, mon ami " And 
with much dramatic fire, during which the 
cigarette went irrevocably out, she proceeded 
to narrate her experiences with Laballiere. 

" Impossible ! " exclaimed Hector when 
the climax was reached ; but his indignation 
was not so patent as she would have liked it 
to be. 

"And to think of an affront like that 
going unpunished ! " was Maman Chavan s 
more sympathetic comment. 

" Oh, the scholars were only too ready to 
offer violence to poor little Andre, but that, 
you can understand, I would not permit. 
And now, here is mamma gone completely 
over to him ; entrapped, God only knows 
how ! " 

" Yes," agreed Hector, " I see he has been 
sending her tamales and boudin blanc" 



68 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

" Boudin blanc, my friend ! If it were 
only that ! But I have a stack of letters, so 
high, I could show them to you, sing 
ing of Laballire, Laballiere, enough to 
drive one distracted. He visits her con 
stantly. He is a man of attainment, she 
says, a man of courage, a man of heart ; and 
the best of company. He has sent her a 
bunch of fat robins as big as a tub " 

" There is something in that a good 
deal in that, mignonne," piped Maman Cha- 
van, approvingly. 

" And now boudin blanc ! and she tells 
me it is the duty of a Christian to forgive. 
Ah, no ; it s no use ; mamma s ways are past 
finding out." 

Suzanne was never in Hector s company 
elsewhere than at Maman Chavan s. Beside 
the Sunday visit, he looked in upon them 
sometimes at dusk, to chat for a moment or 
two. He often treated them to theatre tick 
ets, and even to the opera, when business 
was brisk. Business meant a little note 
book that he carried in his pocket, in which 
he sometimes dotted down orders from the 
country people for wine, that he sold on 
commission. The women always went to 
gether, unaccompanied by any male escort ; 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 69 

trotting along, arm in arm, and brimming 
with enjoyment. 

That same Sunday afternoon Hector 
walked with them a short distance when 
they were on their way to vespers. The three 
walking abreast almost occupied the narrow 
width of the banquette. A gentleman who 
had just stepped out of the Hotel Royal 
stood aside to better enable them to pass. 
He lifted his hat to Suzanne, and cast a quick 
glance, that pictured stupefaction and wrath, 
upon Hector. 

" It s he ! " exclaimed the girl, melodra 
matically seizing Mam an Chavan s arm. 
"Who, he?" 
"Laballiere !" 
"No!" 
"Yes!" 

" A handsome fellow, all the same," nod 
ded the little lady, approvingly. Hector 
thought so too. The conversation again 
turned upon Laballiere, and so continued 
till they reached the side door of the cathe 
dral, where the young man left his two com 
panions. 

In the evening Laballiere called upon 
Suzanne. Maman Chavan closed the front 
door carefully after he entered the small 



70 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 

parlor, and opened the side one that looked 
into the privacy of the garden. Then she 
lighted the lamp and retired, just as Suzanne 
entered. 

The girl bowed a little stiffly, if it may be 
said that she did anything stiffly. "Mon 
sieur Laballiere." That was all she said. 

" Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph," and 
that was all he said. But ceremony did not 
sit easily upon him. 

" Mademoiselle," he began, as soon as 
seated, " I am here as the bearer of a mes 
sage from your mother. You must under 
stand that otherwise I would not be here." 

" I do understan , sir, that you an maman 
have become very warm frien s during my 
absence," she returned, in measured, con 
ventional tones. 

" It pleases me immensely to hear that 
from you," he responded, warmly ; " to be 
lieve that Madame St. Denys Godolph is my 
friend." 

Suzanne coughed more affectedly than 
was quite nice, and patted her glossy braids. 
"The message, if you please, Mr. Labal 
liere." 

" To be sure," pulling himself together 
from the momentary abstraction into which 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 71 

he had fallen in contemplating her. " Well, 
it s just this ; your mother, you must know, 
has been good enough to sell me a fine bit 
of land a deep strip along the bayou " 

" Impossible ! Mais w at sorcery did you 
use to obtain such a thing of my mother, 
Mr. Laballiere ? Lan that has been in the 
St. Denys Godolph family since time un- 
tole ! " 

" No sorcery whatever, Mademoiselle, only 
an appeal to your mother s intelligence and 
common sense ; and she is well supplied with 
both. She wishes me to say, further, that 
she desires your presence very urgently and 
your immediate return home." 

" My mother is unduly impatient, surely," 
replied Suzanne, with chilling politeness. 

" May I ask, mademoiselle," he broke in, 
with an abruptness that was startling, " the 
name of the man with whom you were walk 
ing this afternoon ? " 

She looked at him with unaffected aston 
ishment, and told him : " I hardly under- 
stan yo question. That gentleman is Mr. 
Hector Santien, of one of the firs families 
of Natchitoches ; a warm ole frien an far 
distant relative of mine." 

" Oh, that s his name, is it, Hector San- 



72 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

tien ? Well, please don t walk on the New 
Orleans streets again with Mr. Hector San- 
tien." 

" Yo remarks would be insulting if they 
were not so highly amusing, Mr. Labal- 
liere." 

" I beg your pardon if I am insulting ; 
and I have no desire to be amusing," and 
then Laballiere lost his head. " You are at 
liberty to walk the streets with whom you 
please, of course," he blurted, with ill-sup 
pressed passion, "but if I encounter Mr. 
Hector Santien in your company again, in 
public, I shall wring his neck, then and 
there, as I would a chicken ; I shall break 
every bone in his body " Suzanne had 
arisen. 

" You have said enough, sir. I even de 
sire no explanation of yo words." 

" I did n t intend to explain them," he 
retorted, stung by the insinuation. 

" You will escuse me further," she re 
quested icily, motioning to retire. 

" Not till oh, not till you have forgiven 
me," he cried impulsively, barring her exit ; 
for repentance had come swiftly this time. 

But she did not forgive him. "I can 
wait," she said. Then he stepped aside and 
she passed by him without a second glance. 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 73 

She sent word to Hector the following- 
day to come to Jier. And when he was 
there, in the late afternoon, they walked to 
gether to the end of the vine-sheltered gal 
lery, where the air was redolent with the 
odor of spring blossoms. 

" Hector," she began, after a while, " some 
one has told me I should not be seen upon 
the streets of New Orleans with you." 

He was trimming a long rose-stem with 
his sharp penknife. He did not stop nor 
start, nor look embarrassed, nor anything of 
the sort. 

"Indeed! " he said. 

" But, you know," she went on, " if the 
saints came down from heaven to tell me 
there was a reason for it, I could n t believe 
them." 

" You would n t believe them, ma petite 
Suzanne f " He was getting all the thorns 
off nicely, and stripping away the heavy 
lower leaves. 

"I want you to look me in the face, 
Hector, and tell me if there is any reason." 

He snapped the knife-blade and replaced 
the knife in his pocket ; then he looked in 
her eyes, so unflinchingly, that she hoped 
and believed it presaged a confession of in- 



74 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCH1TOCHES. 

nocence that she would gladly have accepted. 
But he said indifferently: "Yes, there are 
reasons." 

"Then I say there are not," she ex 
claimed excitedly ; " you are amusing your 
self laughing at me, as you always do. 
There are no reasons that I will hear or be 
lieve. You will walk the streets with me, 
will you not, Hector?" she entreated, "and 
go to church with me on Sunday ; and, and 
oh, it s nonsense, nonsense for you to 
say things like that! " 

He held the rose by its long, hardy stem, 
and swept it lightly and caressingly across 
her forehead, along her cheek, and over her 
pretty mouth and chin, as a lover might 
have done with his lips. He noticed how 
the red rose left a crimson stain behind it. 

She had been standing, but now she sank 
upon the bench that was there, and buried 
her face in her palms. A slight convulsive 
movement of the muscles indicated a sup 
pressed sob. 

" Ah, Suzanne, Suzanne, you are not 
going to make yourself unhappy about a bon 
a rien like me. Come, look at me ; tell me 
that you are not." He drew her hands 
down from her face and held them a while, 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 75 

bidding her good-by. His own face wore 
the quizzical look it often did, as if he were 
laughing at her. 

" That work at the store is telling on 
your nerves, mignonne. Promise me that 
you will go back to the country. That will 
be best." 

" Oh, yes ; I am going back home, Hec 
tor." 

" That is right, little cousin," and he pat 
ted her hands kindly, and laid them both 
down gently into her lap. 

He did not return ; neither during the 
week nor the following Sunday. Then Su 
zanne told Maman Chavan she was going 
home. The girl was not too deeply in love 
with Hector; but imagination counts for 
something, and so does youth. 

Laballire was on the train with her. She 
felt, somehow, that ^te would be. And yet 
she did not dream that he had watched and 
waited for her each morning since he parted 
from her. 

He went to her without preliminary of 
manner or speech, and held out his hand ; 
she extended her own unhesitatingly. She 
could not understand why, and she was a 



76 IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 

little too weary to strive to do so. It 
seemed as though the sheer force of his will 
would carry him to the goal of his wishes. 

He did not weary her with attentions dur 
ing the time they were together. He sat 
apart from her, conversing for the most time 
with friends and acquaintances who be 
longed in the sugar district through which 
they traveled in the early part of the day. 

She wondered why he had ever left that 
section to go up into Natchitoches. Then 
she wondered if he did not mean to speak 
to her at all. As if he had read the thought, 
he went and sat down beside her. 

He showed her, away off across the coun 
try, where his mother lived, and his brother 
Alcee, and his cousin Clarisse. 

On Sunday morning, when Maman Cha 
van strove to sound the depth of Hector s 
feeling for Suzanne, he told her again: 
" Women, my dear Maman Chavan, you 
know how it is with me in regard to women," 
and he refilled her glass from the bottle 
of sauterne. 

" Farceur va ! " arid Maman Chavan 
laughed, and her fat shoulders quivered 
under the white volante she wore. 



IN AND OUT OF OLD NATCHITOCHES. 77 

A day or two later, Hector was walking 
down Canal Street at four in the afternoon. 
He might have posed, as he was, for a 
fashion-plate. He looked not to the right 
nor to the left ; not even at the women who 
passed by. Some of them turned to look 
at him. 

When he approached the corner of Royal, 
a young man who stood there nudged his 
companion. 

" You know who that is ? " he said, indi 
cating Hector. 

"No; who?" 

" Well, you are an innocent. Why, that s 
Deroustan, the most notorious gambler in 
New Orleans." 



IN SABINE. 

THE sight of a human habitation, even if 
it was a rude log cabin with a mud chim 
ney at one end, was a very gratifying one to 
Gregoire. 

He had come out of Natchitoches parish, 
and had been riding a great part of the day 
through the big lonesome parish of Sabine. 
He was not following the regular Texas 
road, but, led by his erratic fancy, was push 
ing toward the Sabine River by circuitous 
paths through the rolling pine forests. 

As he approached the cabin in the clear 
ing, he discerned behind a palisade of pine 
saplings an old negro man chopping wood. 

"Howdy, Uncle," called out the young- 
fellow, reining his horse. The negro looked 
up in blank amazement at so unexpected 
an apparition, but he only answered : " How 
you do, suh," accompanying his speech by 
a series of polite nods. 

" Who lives yere ? " 

" Hit s Mas Bud Aiken w at live heah, 
suh." 



IN SABINE. 79 

" WeU, if Mr. Bud Aiken c n affo d to 
hire a man to chop his wood, I reckon he 
won t grudge me a bite o suppa an a 
couple hours res on his gall ry. Wat you 
say, ole man ? " 

" I say dit Mas Bud Aiken don t hires 
me to chop ood. Ef I don t chop dis heah, 
his wife got it to do. Dat w y I chops 
ood, suh. Go right long in, suh; you 
g ine fine Mas Bud some eres roun , ef he 
ain t drunk an gone to bed." 

Gregoire, glad to stretch his legs, dis 
mounted, and led his horse into the small 
inclosure which surrounded the cabin. An 
unkempt, vicious-looking little Texas pony 
stopped nibbling the stubble there to look 
maliciously at him and his fine sleek horse, 
as they passed by. Back of the hut, and 
running plumb up against the pine wood, 
was a small, ragged specimen of a cotton- 
field. 

Gregoire was rather undersized, with a 
square, well-knit figure, upon which his 
clothes sat well and easily. His corduroy 
trousers were thrust into the legs of his 
boots ; he wore a blue flannel shirt ; his coat 
was thrown across the saddle. In his keen 
black eyes had come a puzzled expression, 



80 IN SAB WE. 

and he tugged thoughtfully at the brown 
moustache that lightly shaded his upper 

HP. 

He was trying to recall when and under 
what circumstances he had before heard the 
name of Bud Aiken. But Bud Aiken him 
self saved Gregoire the trouble of further 
speculation on the subject. He appeared 
suddenly in the small doorway, which his big 
body quite filled ; and then Gregoire remem 
bered. This was the disreputable so-called 
" Texan " who a year ago had run away with 
and married Baptiste Choupic s pretty daugh 
ter, Tite Reine, yonder on Bayou Pierre, in 
Natchitoches parish. A vivid picture of 
the girl as he remembered her appeared to 
him : her trim rounded figure ; her piquant 
face with its saucy black coquettish eyes; 
her little exacting, imperious ways that had 
obtained for her the nickname of Tite 
Reine, little queen. Gregoire had known 
her at the Cadian balls that he sometimes 
had the hardihood to attend. 

These pleasing recollections of Tite 
Reine lent a warmth that might otherwise 
have been lacking to Gregoire s manner, 
when he greeted her husband. 

" I hope I fine you well, Mr. Aiken," he 



IN SABINE. 81 

exclaimed cordially, as he approached and 
extended his hand. 

" You find me damn porely, suh ; but 
you ve got the better o me, ef I may so say." 
He was a big good-looking brute, with a 
straw-colored " horse-shoe " moustache quite 
concealing his mouth, and a several days 
growth of stubble on his rugged face. He 
was fond of reiterating that women s admi 
ration had wrecked his life, quite forgetting 
to mention the early and sustained influence 
of " Pike s Magnolia " and other brands, 
and wholly ignoring certain inborn propen 
sities capable of wrecking unaided any ordi 
nary existence. He had been lying down, 
and looked frouzy and half asleep. 

" Ef I may so say, you ve got the better 
o me, Mr. er " 

" Santien, Gregoire Santien. I have the 
pleasure o knowin the lady you married, 
suh ; an I think I met you befo , some- 
w ere o nother," Gregoire added vaguely. 

" Oh," drawled Aiken, waking up, " one 
o them Eed Kiver Sanchuns ! " and his face 
brightened at the prospect before him of 
enjoying the society of one of the Santien 
boys. " Mortimer ! " he called in ringing 
chest tones worthy a commander at the head 



82 IN SABINE. 

of his troop. The negro had rested his 
axe and appeared to be listening to their 
talk, though he was too far to hear what 
they said. 

" Mortimer, come along here an take my 
frien Mr. Sanchun s hoss. Git a move 
thar, git a move ! " Then turning toward 
the entrance of the cabin he called back 
through the open door : " Kain ! " it was 
his way of pronouncing Tite Reine s name. 
" Rain ! " he cried again peremptorily ; and 
turning to Gregoire : " she s tendin to 
some or other housekeepin truck." Tite 
Reine was back in the yard feeding the so! 7 
itary pig which they owned, and which Aiken 
had mysteriously driven up a few days be 
fore, saying he had bought it at Many. 

Gregoire could hear her calling out as 
she approached : " I m comin , Bud. Yere 
I come. Wat you want, Bud ? " breath 
lessly, as she appeared in the door frame 
and looked out upon the narrow sloping gal 
lery where stood the two men. She seemed 
to Gregoire to have changed a good deal. 
She was thinner, and her eyes were larger, 
with an alert, uneasy look in them ; he 
fancied the startled expression came from 
seeing him there unexpectedly. She wore 



IN SABINE. 83 

cleanly homespun garments, the same she 
had brought with her from Bayou Pierre ; 
but her shoes were in shreds. She uttered 
only a low, smothered exclamation when she 
saw Gregoire. 

" Well, is that all you got to say to my 
frien Mr. Sanchun ? That s the way with 
them Cajuns," Aiken offered apologetically 
to his guest ; " ain t got sense enough to 
know a white man when they see one." 
Gregoire took her hand. 

" I m mighty glad to see you, Tite 
Keine," he said from his heart. She had 
for some reason been unable to speak ; now 
she panted somewhat hysterically : 

" You mus escuse me, Mista Gregoire. 
It s the truth I did n know you firs , stan in 
up there." A deep flush had supplanted the 
former pallor of her face, and her eyes shone 
with tears and ill-concealed excitement. 

" I thought you all lived yonda in 
Grant," remarked Gregoire carelessly, mak 
ing talk for the purpose of diverting Aiken s 
attention away from his wife s evident em 
barrassment, which he himself was at a loss 
to understand. 

" Why, we did live a right smart while 
in Grant; but Grant ain t no parish to 



84 IN SABINE. 

make a livin in. Then I tried Winn and 
Caddo a spell ; they was n t no better. But 
I tell you, suh, Sabine s a damn sight worse 
than any of em. Why, a man can t git a 
drink o whiskey here without going out of 
the parish f er it, or across into Texas. I m 
fixin to sell out an try Yernon." 

Bud Aiken s household belongings surely 
would not count for much in the contem 
plated "selling out." The one room that 
constituted his home was extremely bare of 
furnishing, a cheap bed, a pine table, 
and a few chairs, that was all. On a rough 
shelf were some paper parcels representing 
the larder. The mud daubing had fallen out 
here and there from between the logs of the 
cabin; and into the largest of these aper 
tures had been thrust pieces of ragged bag 
ging and wisps of cotton. A tin basin out 
side on the gallery offered the only bathing 
facilities to be seen. Notwithstanding these 
drawbacks, Gregoire announced his inten 
tion of passing the night with Aiken. 

" I m jus goin to ask the privilege o 
layin down yere on yo gall ry to-night, 
Mr. Aiken. My hoss ain t in firs -class 
trim ; an a night s res ain t goin to hurt 
him o me either." He had begun by de- 



IN SABINE. 85 

claring his intention of pushing on across 
the Sabine, but an imploring look from 
Tite Kerne s eyes had stayed the words 
upon his lips. Never had he seen in a 
woman s eyes a look of such heartbroken 
entreaty. He resolved on the instant to 
know the meaning of it before setting foot 
on Texas soil. Gregoire had never learned 
to steel his heart against a woman s eyes, 
no matter what language they spoke. 

An old patchwork quilt folded double 
and a moss pillow which Tite Reine gave 
him out on the gallery made a bed that was, 
after all, not too uncomfortable for a young 
fellow of rugged habits. 

Gregoire slept quite soundly after he 
laid down upon his improvised bed at nine 
o clock. He was awakened toward the 
middle of the night by some one gently shak 
ing him. It was Tite Reine stooping over 
him ; he could see her plainly, for the moon 
was shining. She had not removed the 
clothing she had worn during the day; but 
her feet were bare and looked wonderfully 
small and white. He arose on his elbow, 
wide awake at once. " Wy, Tite Reine ! 
w at the devil you mean ? w ere s yo hus- 
ban ? " 



86 TN SAB1NE. 

"The house kin fall on im, ten goin 
wake up Bud w en he s sleepin ; he drink 
too much." Now that she had aroused 
Gregoire, she stood up, and sinking her face 
in her bended arm like a child, began to cry 
softly. In an instant he was on his feet. 

" My God, Tite Eeine ! w at s the 
matta ? you got to tell me w at s the 
matta." He could no longer recognize 
the imperious Tite Reine, whose will had 
been the law in her father s household. He 
led her to the edge of the low gallery and 
there they sat down. 

Gregoire loved women. He liked their 
nearness, their atmosphere ; the tones of 
their voices and the things they said ; their 
ways of moving and turning about ; the 
brushing of their garments when they 
passed him by pleased him. He was flee 
ing now from the pain that a woman had 
inflicted upon him. When any overpower 
ing sorrow came to Gregoire he felt a singu 
lar longing to cross the Sabine River and 
lose himself in Texas. He had done this 
once before when his home, the old Santien 
place, had gone into the hands of creditors. 
The sight of Tite Reine s distress now 
moved him painfully. 



IN SABINE. 87 

" Wat is it, Tite Reine ? teU me w at it 
is," lie kept asking her. She was attempt 
ing to dry her eyes on her coarse sleeve. 
He drew a handkerchief from his back 
pocket and dried them for her. 

" They aU weU, yonda ? " ^she asked, halt 
ingly, " my popa ? my moma ? the chil en ? " 
Gregoire knew no more of the Baptiste 
Choupic family than the post beside him. 
Nevertheless he answered : " They all right 
well, Tite Reine, but they mighty lonesome 
of you." 

" My popa, he got a putty good crop this 
yea ?" 

" He made right smart o cotton f o Bayou 
Pierre." 

" He done haul it to the relroad ? " 

" No, he ain t quite finish pickin ." 

" I hope they all ent sole 4 Putty Girl ? " 
she inquired solicitously. 

" Well, I should say not ! Yo pa says 
they ain t anotha piece o hossflesh in the 
pa ish he d want to swap fo Putty Girl. : 
She turned to him with vague but fleeting 
amazement, " Putty Girl " was a cow ! 

The autumn night was heavy about them. 
The black forest seemed to have drawn 
nearer ; its shadowy depths were filled with 



88 IN SABINE. 

the gruesome noises that inhabit a southern 
forest at night time. 

" Ain t you f raid sometimes yere, Tite 
Heine ? " Gregoire asked, as he felt a light 
shiver run through him at the weirdness of 
the scene. 

" No," she answered promptly, " I ent 
f/ed o nothin cep Bud." 

"Then he treats you mean? I thought 
so!" 

" Mista Gregoire," drawing close to him 
and whispering in his face, " Bud s killin 
me." He clasped her arm, holding her near 
him, while an expression of profound pity 
escaped him. " Nobody don know, cep 
Unc Mort mer," she went on. " I tell you, 
he beats me ; my back an arms you ought 
to see it s all bliTe. He would a choke 
me to death one day w en he was drunk, if 
Unc Mort mer had n make im lef go with 
his axe ov his head." Gregoire glanced 
back over his shoulder toward the room 
where the man lay sleeping. He was won 
dering if it would really be a criminal act to 
go then and there and shoot the top of Bud 
Aiken s head off. He himself would hardly 
have considered it a crime, but he was not 
sure of how others might regard the act. 



IN SABINE. 89 

"That s w y I wake you up, to tell you," 
she continued. " Then sometime he plague 
me mos crazy ; he tell me t ent no preacher, 
it s a Texas drummer w at marry him an 
me ; an w en I don know w at way to turn 
no mo , he say no, it s a Meth dis archbishop, 
an keep on laughin bout me, an I don 
know w at the truth ! " 

Then again, she told how Bud had in 
duced her to mount the vicious little mus 
tang " Buckeye," knowing that the little 
brute would n t carry a woman ; and how it 
had amused him to witness her distress and 
terror when she was thrown to the ground. 

" If I would know how to read an write, 
an had some pencil an paper, it s long go 
I would wrote to my popa. But it s no pos - 
office, it s no relroad, nothin in Sabine. 
An you know, Mista Gregoire, Bud say he s 
goin carry me yonda to Vernon, an fu ther 
off yet, way yonda, an he s goin turn 
me loose. Oh, don leave me yere, Mista 
Gregoire ! don leave me behine you ! " she 
entreated, breaking once more into sobs. 

" Tite Reine," he answered, " do you 
think I m such a low-down scound el as to 
leave you yere with that " He finished 
the sentence mentally, not wishing to offend 
the ears of Tite Reine. 



90 IN SABINE. 

They talked on a good while after that. 
She would not return to the room where her 
husband lay ; the nearness of a friend had 
already emboldened her to inward revolt. 
Gregoire induced her to lie down and rest 
upon the quilt that she had given to him for 
a bed. She did so, and broken down by 
fatigue was soon fast asleep. 

He stayed seated on the edge of the gal 
lery and began to smoke cigarettes which he 
rolled himself of perique tobacco. He might 
have gone in and shared Bud Aiken s bed, 
but preferred to stay there near Tite Heine. 
He watched the two horses, tramping slowly 
about the lot, cropping the dewy wet tufts 
of grass. 

Gregoire smoked on. He only stopped 
when the moon sank down behind the pine- 
trees, and the long deep shadow reached 
out and enveloped him. Then he could no 
longer see and follow the filmy smoke from 
his cigarette, and he threw it away. Sleep 
was pressing heavily upon him. He stretched 
himself full length upon the rough bare 
boards of the gallery and slept until day 
break. 

Bud Aiken s satisfaction was very genu 
ine when he learned that Gregoire proposed 



IN SABINE, 91 

spending the day and another night with 
him. He had already recognized in the 
young Creole a spirit not altogether uncon 
genial to his own. 

Tite Reine cooked breakfast for them. 
She made coffee ; of course there was no 
milk to add to it, but there was sugar. 
From a meal bag that stood in the corner 
of the room she took a measure of meal, 
and with it made a pone of corn bread. She 
fried slices of salt pork. Then Bud sent 
her into the field to pick cotton with old Un 
cle Mortimer. The negro s cabin was the 
counterpart of their own, but stood quite 
a distance away hidden in the woods. He 
and Aiken worked the crop on shares. 

Early in the day Bud produced a grimy 
pack of cards from behind a parcel of sugar 
on the shelf. Gregoire threw the cards into 
the fire and replaced them with a spic and 
span new "deck" that he took from his 
saddlebags. He also brought forth from the 
same receptacle a bottle of whiskey, which he 
presented to his host, saying that he himself 
had no further use for it, as he had " sworn 
off" since day before yesterday, when he 
had made a fool of himself in Cloutierville. 

They sat at the pine table smoking and 



92 IN SABINE. 

playing cards all the morning, only desist 
ing when Tite Reine came to serve them 
with the gumbo-file that she had come out of 
the field to cook at noon. She could afford 
to treat a guest to chicken gumbo, for she 
owned a half dozen chickens that Uncle 
Mortimer had presented to her at various 
times. There were only two spoons, and 
Tite Heine had to wait till the men had fin 
ished before eating her soup. She waited 
for Gre*goire s spoon, though her husband 
was the first to get through. It was a very 
childish whim. 

In the afternoon she picked cotton again ; 
and the men played cards, smoked, and Bud 
drank. 

It was a very long time since Bud Aiken 
had enjoyed himself so well, and since he 
had encountered so sympathetic and appre 
ciative a listener to the story of his event 
ful career. The story of Tite Heine s fall 
from the horse he told with much spirit, 
mimicking quite skillfully the way in which 
she had complained of never being permit 
ted " to teck a li le pleasure," whereupon 
he had kindly suggested horseback riding. 
Gregoire enjoyed the story amazingly, which 
encouraged Aiken to relate many more of a 



IN SABINE. 93 

similar character. As the afternoon wore 
on, all formality of address between the two 
had disappeared: they were "Bud" and 
" Gregoire " to each other, and Gregoire 
had delighted Aiken s soul by promising to 
spend a week with him. Tite Keine was 
also touched by the spirit of recklessness in 
the air ; it moved her to fry two chickens 
for supper. She fried them deliciously in 
bacon fat. After supper she again arranged 
Gregoire s bed out on the gallery. 

The night fell calm and beautiful, with 
the delicious odor of the pines floating upon 
the air. But the three did not sit up to en 
joy it. Before the stroke of nine, Aiken had 
already fallen upon his bed unconscious of 
everything about him in the heavy drunken 
sleep that would hold him fast through the 
night. It even clutched him more relent 
lessly than usual, thanks to Gregoire s free 
gift of whiskey. 

The sun was high when he awoke. He 
lifted his voice and called imperiously for 
Tite Reine, wondering that the coffee-pot 
was not on the hearth, and marveling still 
more that he did not hear her voice in 
quick response with its, " I m comin , Bud. 
Yere I come." He called again and again. 



94 IN SABINE. 

Then he arose and looked out through the 
back door to see if she were picking cotton 
in the field, but she was not there. He 
dragged himself to the front entrance. Gre- 
goire s bed was still on the gallery, but the 
young fellow was nowhere to be seen. 

Uncle Mortimer had come into the yard, 
not to cut wood this time, but to pick up 
the axe which was his own property, and 
lift it to his shoulder. 

" Mortimer," called out Aiken, " whur s 
my wife ? " at the same time advancing 
toward the negro. Mortimer stood still, 
waiting for him. " Whur s my wife an 
that Frenchman ? Speak out, I say, before 
I send you to h 1." 

Uncle Mortimer never had feared Bud 
Aiken ; and with the trusty axe upon his 
shoulder, he felt a double hardihood in the 
man s presence. The old fellow passed the 
back of his black, knotty hand unctuously 
over his lips, as though he relished in ad 
vance the words that were about to pass 
them. He spoke carefully and deliberately : 

"Miss Reiiie," he said, "I reckon she 
mus of done struck Natchitoches pa ish 
sometime to ard de middle o de night, on 
dat ar swif hoss o Mr. Sanchun s." 



IN SABINE. 95 

Aiken uttered a terrific oath. " Saddle 
up Buckeye," he yelled, " before I count 
twenty, or 1 11 rip the black hide off yer. 
Quick, thar ! Thur ain t iiothin fourf ooted 
top o this earth that Buckeye can t run 
down." Uncle Mortimer scratched his head 
dubiously, as he answered : 

" Yas, Mas Bud, but you see, Mr. San- 
chun, he done cross de Sabine befo sun-up 
on Buckeye." 



A VERY FINE FIDDLE. 

WHEN the half dozen little ones were 
hungry, old Cleophas would take the fiddle 
from its flannel bag and play a tune upon it. 
Perhaps it was to drown their cries, or their 
hunger, or his conscience, or all three. One 
day Fifine, in a rage, stamped her small foot 
and clinched her little hands, and declared : 

" It s no two way ! I m goin smash 
it, dat fiddle, some day in a t ousan piece ! " 

" You mus n do dat, Fifine," expostu 
lated her father. " Dat fiddle been ol er 
an you an me t ree time put togedder. 
You done yaird me tell often nough bout 
dat Italien w at give it to me w en he die, 
long yonder befo de war. An he say, 
Cleophas, dat fiddle dat one part my life 
w at goin live w en I be dead Dieu 
merci ! You talkin too fas , Fifine." 

" Well, I m goin do some in wid dat fid 
dle, va ! " returned the daughter, only half 
mollified. " Mine w at I say." 

So once when there were great carryings- 



A VERY FINE FIDDLE. 97 

on up at the big plantation no end of 
ladies and gentlemen from the city, riding, 
driving, dancing, and making music upon 
all manner of instruments Fifine, with the 
fiddle in its flannel bag, stole away and up 
to the big house where these festivities were 
in progress. 

No one noticed at first the little barefoot 
girl seated upon a step of the veranda and 
watching, lynx-eyed, for her opportunity. 

" It s one fiddle I got for sell," she an 
nounced, resolutely, to the first who ques 
tioned her. 

It was very funny to have a shabby little 
girl sitting there wanting to sell a fiddle, and 
the child was soon surrounded. 

The lustreless instrument was brought 
forth and examined, first with amusement, 
but soon very seriously, especially by three 
gentlemen : one with very long hair that 
hung down, another with equally long hair 
that stood up, the third with no hair worth 
mentioning. 

These three turned the fiddle upside down 
and almost inside out. They thumped upon 
it, and listened. They scraped upon it, and 
listened. They walked into the house with 
it, and out of the house with it, and into 



98 A VERY FINE FIDDLE. 

remote corners with it. All this with much 
putting of heads together, and talking to 
gether in familiar and unfamiliar languages. 
And, finally, they sent Fifine away with a 
fiddle twice as beautiful as the one she had 
brought, and a roll of money besides ! 

The child was dumb with astonishment, 
and away she flew. But when she stopped 
beneath a big chinaberry-tree, to further 
scan the roll of money, her wonder was re 
doubled. There was far more than she could 
count, more than she had ever dreamed of 
possessing. Certainly enough to top the old 
cabin with new shingles ; to put shoes on all 
the little bare feet and food into the hungry 
mouths. Maybe enough and Fifine s heart 
fairly jumped into her throat at the vision 
maybe enough to buy Blanchette and her 
tiny calf that Unc Simeon wanted to sell ! 

" It s jis like you say, Fifine," murmured 
old Cleophas, huskily, when he had played 
upon the new fiddle that night. " It s one 
fine fiddle ; an like you say, it shine like 
satin. But some way or udder, t ain de same. 
Yair, Fifine, take it put it side. I 
b lieve, me, I ain goin play de fiddle no 



BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

THE bayou curved like a crescent around 
the point of land on which La Folle s cabin 
stood. Between the stream and the hut lay 
a big abandoned field, where cattle were 
pastured when the bayou supplied them with 
water enough. Through the woods that 
spread back into unknown regions the woman 
had drawn an imaginary line, and past this 
circle she never stepped. This was the form 
of her only mania. 

She was now a large, gaunt black woman, 
past thirty-five. Her real name was Jacque 
line, but every one on the plantation called 
her La Folle, because in childhood she had 
been frightened literally " out of her senses," 
and had never wholly regained them. 

It was when there had been skirmishing 
and sharpshooting all day in the woods. 
Evening was near when P tit Maitre, black 
with powder and crimson with blood, had 
staggered into the cabin of Jacqueline s 
mother, his pursuers close at his heels. The 
sight had stunned her childish reason. 



100 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

She dwelt alone in her solitiry cabin, for 
the rest of the quarters had long since been 
removed beyond her sight and knowledge. 
She had more physical strength than most 
men, and made her patch of cotton and corn 
and tobacco like the best of them. But of 
the world beyond the bayou she had long 
known nothing, save what her morbid fancy 
conceived. 

People at Bellissime had grown used to 
her and her way, and they thought nothing 
of it. Even when " Old Mis " died, they 
did not wonder that La Folle had not crossed 
the bayou, but had stood upon her side of 
it, wailing and lamenting. 

P tit Maitre was now the owner of Bel 
lissime. He was a middle-aged man, with 
a family of beautiful daughters about him, 
and a little son whom La Folle loved as if 
he had been her own. She called him Cheri, 
and so did every one else because she did. 

None of the girls had ever been to her 
what Cheri was. They had each and all 
loved to be with her, and to listen to her 
wondrous stories of things that always hap 
pened " yonda, beyon de bayou." 

But none of them had stroked her black 
hand quite as Cheri did, nor rested their 



BEYOND THE BAYOU 10^ 

heads against her knee so confidingly, tio*r 
fallen asleep in her arms as he used to do. 
For Cheri hardly did such things now, 
since he had become the proud possessor of 
a gun, and had had his black curls cut off. 

That summer the summer Cheri gave 
La Folle two black curls tied with a knot 
of red ribbon the water ran so low in the 
bayou that even the little children at Bel- 
lissime were able to cross it on foot, and 
the cattle were sent to pasture down by the 
river. La Folle was sorry when they were 
gone, for she loved these dumb companions 
well, and liked to feel that they were there, 
and to hear them browsing by night up to 
her own inclosure. 

It was Saturday afternoon, when the fields 
were deserted. The men had flocked to a 
neighboring village to do their week s trad 
ing, and the women were occupied with 
household affairs, La Folle as well as the 
others. It was then she mended and washed 
her handful of clothes, scoured her house, 
and did her baking. 

In this last employment she never for 
got Cheri. To-day she had fashioned cro- 
quignoles of the most fantastic and alluring 
shapes for him. So when she saw the boy 



;L02 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

V" tL l "^itc l i. 

cbnle trudging 1 across the old field with his 
gleaming little new rifle on his shoulder, she 
called out gayly to him, " Cheri ! Cheri ! " 

But Cheri did not need the summons, for 
he was coming straight to her. His pockets 
all bulged out with almonds and raisins and 
an orange that he had secured for her from 
the very fine dinner which had been given 
that day up at his father s house. 

He was a sunny-faced youngster of ten. 
When he had emptied his pockets, La Folle 
patted his round red cheek, wiped his soiled 
hands on her apron, and smoothed his hair. 
Then she watched him as, with his cakes 
in his hand, he crossed her strip of cotton 
back of the cabin, and disappeared into the 
wood. 

He had boasted of the things he was go 
ing to do with his gun out there. 

" You think they got plenty deer in the 
wood, La Folle ? " he had inquired, with the 
calculating air of an experienced hunter. 

"JVbtt, non ! " the woman laughed. " Don t 
you look fo no deer, Cheri. Dat s too big. 
But you bring La Folle one good fat squir 
rel fo her dinner to-morrow, an she goin 
be satisfi ." 

" One squirrel ain t a bite. I 11 bring you 



BEYOND THE BAYOU. 103 

mo an one, La Folle," he had boasted 
pompously as he went away. 

When the woman, an hour later, heard 
the report of the boy s rifle close to the 
wood s edge, she would have thought no 
thing of it if a sharp cry of distress had not 
followed the sound. 

She withdrew her arms from the tub of 
suds in which they had been plunged, dried 
them upon her apron, and as quickly as 
her trembling limbs would bear her, hurried 
to the spot whence the ominous report had 
come. 

It was as she feared. There she found 
Cheri stretched upon the ground, with his 
rifle beside him. He moaned piteously : 

" I m dead, La Folle ! I m dead ! I m 
gone ! " 

" Non, non ! " she exclaimed resolutely, 
as she knelt beside him. " Put you arm 
rouii La Folle s nake, Cheri. Dat s nuttin ; 
dat goin be nuttin ." She lifted him in her 
powerful arms. 

Cheri had carried his gun muzzle-down 
ward. He had stumbled, he did not know 
how. He only knew that he had a ball 
lodged somewhere in his leg, and he thought 
that his end was at hand. Now, with his 



104 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

head upon the woman s shoulder, he moaned 
and wept with pain and fright. 

" Oh, La Folle ! La Folle I it hurt so 
bad ! I can stan it, La Folle ! " 

" Don t cry, mon bebe, mon bebe, mon 
Cherif" the woman spoke soothingly as 
she covered the ground with long strides. 
"La Folle goin mine you; Doctor Bonfils 
goin come make mon Cheri well agin." 

She had reached the abandoned field. As 
she crossed it with her precious burden, she 
looked constantly and restlessly from side 
to side. A terrible fear was upon her, 
the fear of the world beyond the bayou, 
the morbid and insane dread she had been 
under since childhood. 

When she was at the bayou s edge she 
stood there, and shouted for help as if a life 
depended upon it : 

"Oh,P titMaitre! Ftit Maitre ! Yenez 
done ! Au secours ! Au secours ! " 

No voice responded. Cheri s hot tears 
were scalding her neck. She called for 
each and every one upon the place, and still 
no answer came. 

She shouted, she wailed ; but whether her 
voice remained unheard or unheeded, no 
reply came to her frenzied cries. And all 



BEYOND THE BAYOU. 105 

the while Cheri moaned and wept and en 
treated to be taken home to his mother. 

La Folle gave a last despairing look 
around her. Extreme terror was upon her. 
She clasped the child close against her 
breast, where he could feel her heart beat 
like a muffled hammer. Then shutting her 
eyes, she ran suddenly down the shallow 
bank of the bayou, and never stopped till 
she had climbed the opposite shore. 

She stood there quivering an instant as she 
opened her eyes. Then she plunged into 
the footpath through the trees. 

She spoke no more to Cheri, but mut 
tered constantly, "Bon Dieu, ayez pitie 
La Folle ! Bon Dieu, ayez pitie moi ! " 

Instinct seemed to guide her. When the 
pathway spread clear and smooth enough 
before her, she again closed her eyes tightly 
against the sight of that unknown and terri 
fying world. 

A child, playing in some weeds, caught 
sight of her as she neared the quarters. 
The little one uttered a cry of dismay. 

" La Folle ! " she screamed, in her pier 
cing treble. " La Folle done cross de bayer ! " 

Quickly the cry passed down the line of 
cabins. 



106 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

" Yonda, La Folle done cross de bayou ! " 

Children, old men, old women, young ones 
with infants in their arms, flocked to doors 
and windows to see this awe-inspiring spec 
tacle. Most of them shuddered with super 
stitious dread of what it might portend. 
" She totin Cheri ! " some of them shouted. 

Some of the more daring gathered about 
her, and followed at her heels, only to fall 
back with new terror when she turned her 
distorted face upon them. Her eyes were 
bloodshot and the saliva had gathered in a 
white foam on her black lips. 

Some one had run ahead of her to where 
P tit Maitre sat with his family and guests 
upon the gallery. 

" P tit Maitre ! La Folle done cross de 
bayou ! Look her ! Look her yonda totin 
Cheri ! " This startling intimation was the 
first which they had of the woman s ap 
proach. 

She was now near at hand. She walked 
with long strides. Her eyes were fixed 
desperately before her, and she breathed 
heavily, as a tired ox. 

At the foot of the stairway, which she 
could not have mounted, she laid the boy in 
his father s arms. Then the world that had 



BEYOND THE BAYOU. 107 

looked red to La Folle suddenly turned 
black, like that day she had seen powder 
and blood. 

She reeled for an instant. Before a sus 
taining arm could reach her, she fell heavily 
to the ground. 

When La Folle regained consciousness, 
she was at home again, in her own cabin 
and upon her own bed. The moon rays, 
streaming in through the open door and 
windows, gave what light was needed to the 
old black mammy who stood at the table 
concocting a tisane of fragrant herbs. It 
was very late. 

Others who had come, and found that the 
stupor clung to her, had gone again. P tit 
Maitre had been there, and with him Doctor 
Bonfils, who said that La Folle might die. 

But death had passed her by. The voice 
was very clear and steady with which she 
spoke to Tante Lizette, brewing her tisane 
there in a corner. 

"Ef you will give me one good drink 
tisane, Tante Lizette, I b lieve I m goin 
sleep, me." 

And she did sleep ; so soundly, so health 
fully, that old Lizette without compunction 
stole softly away, to creep back through the 



108 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

moonlit fields to her own cabin in the new 
quarters. 

The first touch of the cool gray morning 
awoke La Folle. She arose, calmly, as if no 
tempest had shaken and threatened her ex 
istence but yesterday. 

She donned her new blue cottonade and 
white apron, for she remembered that this 
was Sunday. When she had made for her 
self a cup of strong black coffee, and drunk 
it with relish, she quitted the cabin and 
walked across the old familiar field to the 
bayou s edge again. 

She did not stop there as she had always 
done before, but crossed with a long, steady 
stride as if she had done this all her life. 

When she had made her way through 
the brush and scrub cottonwood-trees that 
lined the opposite bank, she found herself 
upon the border of a field where the white, 
bursting cotton, with the dew upon it, 
gleamed for acres and acres like frosted 
silver in the early dawn. 

La Folle drew a long, deep breath as she 
gazed across the country. She walked slowly 
and uncertainly, like one who hardly knows 
how, looking about her as she went. 

The cabins, that yesterday had sent a 



BEYOND THE BAYOU. 109 

clamor of voices to pursue her, were quiet 
now. No one was yet astir at Bellissime. 
Only the birds that darted here and there 
from hedges were awake, and singing their 
matins. 

When La Folle came to the broad stretch 
of velvety lawn that surrounded the house, 
she moved slowly and with delight over the 
springy turf, that was delicious beneath her 
tread. 

She stopped to find whence came those 
perfumes that were assailing her senses with 
memories from a time far gone. 

There they were, stealing up to her from 
the thousand blue violets that peeped out 
from green, luxuriant beds. There they 
were, showering down from the big waxen 
bells of the magnolias far above her head, 
and from the jessamine clumps around her. 

There were roses, too, without number. 
To right and left palms spread in broad and 
graceful curves. It all looked like enchant 
ment beneath the sparkling sheen of dew. 

When La Folle had slowly and cautiously 
mounted the many steps that led up to the 
veranda, she turned to look back at the per 
ilous ascent she had made. Then she caught 
sight of the river, bending like a silver bow 



110 BEYOND THE BAYOU. 

at the foot of Bellissiine. Exultation pos 
sessed her soul. 

La Folle rapped softly upon a door near 
at hand. Cheri s mother soon cautiously 
opened it. Quickly and cleverly she dissem 
bled the astonishment she felt at seeing La 
Folle. 

" Ah, La FoUe ! Is it you, so early ? " 

" Oui, niadame. I come ax how my po 
li le Cheri to, s mo nin ." 

" He is feeling easier, thank you, La 
Folle. Dr. Bonfils says it will be nothing 
serious. He s sleeping now. Will you 
come back when he awakes? " 

" Non, madame. I m goin wait yair tell 
Cheri wake up." La Folle seated herself 
upon the topmost step of the veranda. 

A look of wonder and deep content crept 
into her face as she watched for the first 
time the sun rise upon the new, the beauti 
ful world beyond the bayou. 



OLD AUNT PEGGY. 

WHEN the war was over, old Aunt Peggy 
went to Monsieur, and said : - 

" Massa, I ain t never gwine to quit yer. 
I m gittin ole an feeble, an my days is few 
in dis heah Ian o sorrow an sin. All I 
axes is a li le co ner whar I kin set down an 
wait peaceful fu de en ." 

Monsieur and Madame were very much 
touched at this mark of affection and fidel 
ity from Aunt Peggy. So, in the general 
reconstruction of the plantation which im 
mediately followed the surrender, a nice 
cabin, pleasantly appointed, was set apart 
for the old woman. Madame did not even 
forget the very comfortable rocking-chair 
in which Aunt Peggy might " set down," as 
she herself feelingly expressed it, " an wait 
fu de eiiV 

She has been rocking ever since. 

At intervals of about two years Aunt 
Peggy hobbles up to the house, and delivers 
the stereotyped address which has become 
more than familiar : 



112 OLD AUNT PEGGY. 

" Mist ess, I s come to take a las look at 
you all. Le me look at you good. Le me 
look at de chillun, de big chillun an de 
li le chillun. Le me look at de picters an 
de photygraphts an de pianny, an eve ything 
fo it s too late. One eye is done gone, an 
de udder s a-gwine fas . Any mo nin yo 
po ole Aunt Peggy gwine wake up an fin 
herse f stone-bline." 

After such a visit Aunt Peggy invariably 
returns to her cabin with a generously filled 
apron. 

The scruple which Monsieur one time felt 
in supporting a woman for so many years in 
idleness has entirely disappeared. Of late 
his attitude towards Aunt Peggy is simply 
one of profound astonishment, wonder at 
the surprising age which an old black woman 
may attain when she sets her mind to it, for 
Aunt Peggy is a hundred and twenty-five, so 
she says. 

It may not be true, however. Possibly 
she is older. 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

MR. FEED BARTNER was sorely perplexed 
and annoyed to find that a wheel and tire of 
his buggy threatened to part company. 

" Ef you want," said the negro boy who 
drove him, " we kin stop yonda at ole M sie 
Jean Ba s an fix it ; he got de bes black- 
smif shop in de pa ish on his place." 

" Who in the world is old Monsieur Jean 
Ba," the young man inquired. 

"How come, suh, you don know old M sie 
Jean Baptiste Plochel ? He ole, ole. He 
sorter quare in he head ev sence his son 
M sie Alcibiade got kill in de wah. Yonda 
he live ; whar you sees dat che okee hedge 
takin up half de road." 

Little more than twelve years ago, before 
the " Texas and Pacific " had joined the cities 
of New Orleans and Shreveport with its 
steel bands, it was a common thing to travel 
through miles of central Louisiana in a 
buggy. Fred Bartner, a young commission 
merchant of New Orleans, on business bent. 



114 THE RETURN OF ALCIJ5IADE. 

had made the trip in this way by easy stages 
from his home to a point on Cane River, 
within a half day s journey of Natchitoches. 
From the mouth of Cane River he had 
passed one plantation after another, large 
ones and small ones. There was nowhere 
sight of anything like a town, except the 
little hamlet of Cloutierville, through which 
they had sped in the gray dawn. " Dat 
town, hit s ole, ole; mos a hund ed year 
ole, dey say. Uh, uh, look to me like it 
heap ol r an dat," the darkey had com 
mented. Now they were within sight of 
Monsieur Jean Ba s towering Cherokee 
hedge. 

It was Christmas morning, but the sun 
was warm and the air so soft and mild that 
Bartner found the most comfortable way to 
wear his light overcoat was across his knees, 
At the entrance to the plantation he dis 
mounted and the negro drove away toward 
the smithy which stood on the edge of the 
field. 

From the end of the long avenue of mag 
nolias that led to it, the house which con 
fronted Bartner looked grotesquely long in 
comparison with its height. It was one 
story, of pale, yellow stucco ; its massive 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 115 

wooden shutters were a faded green. A 
wide gallery, topped by the overhanging 
roof, encircled it. 

At the head of the stairs a very old man 
stood. His figure was small and shrunken, 
his hair long and snow-white. He wore a 
broad, soft felt hat, and a brown plaid shawl 
across his bent shoulders. A tall, graceful 
girl stood beside him ; she was clad in a 
warm-colored blue stuff gown. She seemed 
to be expostulating with the old gentleman, 
who evidently wanted to descend the stairs 
to meet the approaching visitor. Before 
Bartner had had time to do more than lift 
his hat, Monsieur Jean Ba had thrown his 
trembling arms about the young man and 
was exclaiming in his quavering old tones : 
" A la fin ! mon fils ! a la fin ! " Tears 
started to the girl s eyes and she was rosy 
with confusion. " Oh, escuse him, sir ; 
please escuse him," she whisperingly en 
treated, gently striving to disengage the old 
gentleman s arms from around the aston 
ished Bartner. But a new line of thought 
seemed fortunately to take possession of 
Monsieur Jean Ba, for he moved away and 
went quickly, pattering like a baby, down 
the gallery. His fleecy white hair streamed 



116 THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

out on the soft breeze, and his brown shawl 
flapped as he turned the corner. 

Bartner, left alone with the girl, pro 
ceeded to introduce himself and to explain 
his presence there. 

" Oh ! Mr. Fred Bartna of New Orleans ? 
The commission merchant ! " she exclaimed, 
cordially extending her hand. " So well 
known in Natchitoches parish. Not our 
merchant, Mr. Bartna," she added, naively, 
" but jus as welcome, all the same, at my 
gran father s." 

Bartner felt like kissing her, but he only 
bowed and seated himself in the big chair 
which she offered him. He wondered what 
was the longest time it could take to mend a 
buggy tire. 

She sat before him with her hands pressed 
down into her lap, and with an eagerness and 
pretty air of being confidential that were 
extremely engaging, explained the reasons 
for her grandfather s singular behavior. 

Years ago, her uncle Alcibiade, in going 
away to the war, with the cheerful assurance 
of youth, had promised his father that he 
would return to eat Christmas dinner with 
him. He never returned. And now, of late 
years, since Monsieur Jean Ba had begun 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 117 

to fail in body and mind, that old, unspoken 
hope of long ago had come back to live anew 
in his heart. Every Christmas Day he 
watched for the coming of Alcibiade. 

"Ah! if you knew, Mr. Bartna, how I 
have endeavor to distrac his mine from 
that thought ! Weeks ago, I tole to all the 
negroes, big and li le, If one of you dare to 
say the word, Christmas gif, in the hearing 
of Monsieur Jean Baptiste, you will have to 
answer it to me. 

Bartner could not recall when he had been 
so deeply interested in a narration. 

" So las night, Mr. Bartna, I said to 
grandpere, Pe*pere, you know to-morrow 
will be the great feas of la Trinite ; we will 
read our litany together in the morning and 
say a chapelet. He did not answer a word ; 
il est malin, oui. But this morning at day 
light he was rapping his cane on the back 
gallery, calling together the negroes. Did 
they not know it was Christmas Day, an a 
great dinner mus be prepare for his son 
Alcibiade, whom he was especting ! " 

" And so he has mistaken me for his son 
Alcibiade. It is very unfortunate," said 
Bartner, sympathetically. He was a good- 
looking, honest-faced young fellow. 



118 THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

The girl arose, quivering with an inspira 
tion. She approached Bartner, and in her 
eagerness laid her hand upon his arm. 

" Oh, Mr. Bartna, if you will do me a 
favor ! The greates favor of my life ! " 

He expressed his absolute readiness. 

" Let him believe, jus for this one Christ 
mas day, that you are his son. Let him have 
that Christmas dinner with Alcibiade, that 
he has been longing for so many year ." 

Bartner s was not a puritanical conscience, 
but truthfulness was a habit as well as 
a principle with him, and he winced. " It 
seems to me it would be cruel to deceive him ; 
it would not be " he did not like to say 
" right," but she guessed that he meant it. 

" Oh, for that," she laughed, " you may 
stay as w ite as snow, Mr. Bartna. / will 
take all the sin on my conscience. I assume 
all the responsibility on my shoulder ." 

" Esmee ! " the old man was calling as he 
came trotting back, " Esmee, my child," in 
his quavering French, " I have ordered the 
dinner. Go see to the arrangements of the 
table, and have everything faultless." 

The dining-room was at the end of the 
house, with windows opening upon the side 



THE RETURN OF ALC1BIADE. 119 

and back galleries. There was a high, sim 
ply carved wooden mantelpiece, bearing a 
wide, slanting, old-fashioned mirror that re 
flected the table and its occupants. The 
table was laden with an overabundance. 
Monsieur Jean Ba sat at one end, Esmee at 
the other, and Bartner at the side. 

Two " grif" boys, a big black woman and 
a little mulatto girl waited upon them ; there 
was a reserve force outside within easy call, 
and the little black and yellow faces kept 
bobbing up constantly above the window- 
sills. Windows and doors were open, and 
a fire of hickory branches blazed on the 
hearth. 

Monsieur Jean Ba ate little, but that lit 
tle greedily and rapidly ; then he stayed in 
rapt contemplation of his guest. 

" You will notice, Alcibiade, the flavor of 
the turkey," he said. " It is dressed with 
pecans ; those big ones from the tree down 
on the bayou. I had them gathered ex 
pressly." The delicate and rich flavor of 
the nut was indeed very perceptible. 

Bartner had a stupid impression of acting 
on the stage, and had to pull himself to 
gether every now and then to throw off the 
stiffness of the amateur actor. But this 



120 THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

discomposure amounted almost to paralysis 
when he found Mademoiselle Esmee taking 
the situation as seriously as her grandfather. 

" Mon Dieu ! uncle Alcibiade, you are 
not eating ! Mais w ere have you lef your 
appetite? Corbeau, fill your young mas 
ter s glass. Doralise, you are neglecting 
Monsieur Alcibiade ; he is without bread." 

Monsieur Jean Ba s feeble intelligence 
reached out very dimly ; it was like a 
dream which clothes the grotesque and un 
natural with the semblance of reality. He 
shook his head up and down with pleased 
approbation of Esmee s " Uncle Alcibi 
ade," that tripped so glibly on her lips. 
When she arranged his after-dinner brulot, 
a lump of sugar in a flaming teaspoon- 
ful of brandy, dropped into a tiny cup of 
black coffee, he reminded her, " Your 
Uncle Alcibiade takes two lumps, Esmee. 
The scamp ! he is fond of sweets. Two 
or three lumps, Esmee." Bartner would 
have relished his brulot greatly, prepared so 
gracefully as it was by Esmee s deft hands, 
had it not been for that superfluous lump. 

After dinner the girl arranged her grand 
father comfortably in his big armchair on 
the gallery, where he loved to sit when the 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE 121 

weather permitted. She fastened his shawl 
about him and laid a second one across his 
knees. She shook up the pillow for his 
head, patted his sunken cheek and kissed 
his forehead under the soft-brimmed hat. 
She left him there with the sun warming 
his feet and old shrunken knees. 

Esmee and Bartner walked together 
under the magnolias. In walking they trod 
upon the violet borders that grew rank and 
sprawling, and the subtle perfume of the 
crushed flowers scented the air deliciously. 
They stooped and plucked handf uls of them. 
They gathered roses, too, that were bloom 
ing yet against the warm south end of the 
house ; and they chattered and laughed like 
children. When they sat in the sunlight 
upon the low steps to arrange the flowers 
they had broken, Bartner s conscience began 
to prick him anew. 

" You know," he said, " I can t stay here 
always, as well as I should like to. I shall 
have to leave presently; then your grand 
father will discover that we have been de 
ceiving him, and you can see how cruel 
that will be." 

"Mr. Bartna," answered Esmee, daintily 
holding a rosebud up to her pretty nose, 



122 THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

" Wen I awoke this morning an said my 
prayers, I prayed to the good God that He 
would give one happy Christmas day to my 
gran f ather. He has answered my prayer ; 
an He does not sen his gif s incomplete. 
He will provide. 

" Mr. Bartna, this morning I agreed to 
take all responsibility on my shoulder , you 
remember? Now, I place all that respon 
sibility on the shoulder of the blessed Vir- 
gin." 

Bartner was distracted with admiration ; 
whether for this beautiful and consoling 
faith, or its charming votary, was not quite 
clear to him. 

Every now and then Monsieur Jean Ba 
would call out, " Alcibiade, mon fils ! " 
and Bartner would hasten to his side. 
Sometimes the old man had forgotten what 
he wanted to say. Once it was to ask if 
the salad had been to his liking, or if he 
would, perhaps, not have preferred the tur 
key aux truffes. 

" Alcibiade, mon fils ! " Again Bartner 
amiably answered the summons. Monsieur 
Jean Ba took the young man s hand affec 
tionately in his, but limply, as children hold 
hands. Bartner s closed firmly around it. 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 123 

" Alcibiade, I am going to take a little 
nap now. If Robert McFarlane comes while 
I am sleeping, with more talk of wanting to 
buy Neg Severin, tell him I will sell none 
of my slaves ; not the least little negrillon. 
Drive him from the place with the shot 
gun. Don t be afraid to use the shot-gun, 
Alcibiade, when I am asleep, if he 
comes." 

Esmee and Bartner forgot that there was 
such a thing as time, and that it was pass 
ing. There were no more calls of "Al 
cibiade, mon fils ! " As the sun dipped 
lower and lower in the west, its light was 
creeping, creeping up and illuming the still 
body of Monsieur Jean Ba. It lighted his 
waxen hands, folded so placidly in his lap ; 
it touched his shrunken bosom. When it 
reached his face, another brightness had 
come there before it, the glory of a qu 1 ^ 
and peaceful death. 

Bartner remained over 
to add what assistanc 
which kindly neighbo 

In the early mo r 
departure, he was 
She was overco r 



124 THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 

could hardly hope to assuage, even with the 
keen sympathy which he felt. 

" And may I be permitted to ask, Ma 
demoiselle, what will be your plans for the 
future?" 

" Oh," she moaned, " I cannot any longer 
remain upon the ole plantation, which would 
not be home without grandpere. I suppose 
I shall go to live in New Orleans with my 
tante Clementine." The last was spoken 
in the depths of her handkerchief. 

Bartner s heart bounded at this intelli 
gence in a manner which he could not but 
feel was one of unbecoming levity. He 
pressed her disengaged hand warmly, and 
went away. 

The sun was again shining brightly, but 

the morning was crisp and cool ; a thin 

wafer of ice covered what had yesterday 

ibeen pools of water in the road. Bartner 

the saT^d his^oat about him closely. The 

would, perhaps, steam cotton-gins sounded 

key aux truffes. One or two shivering 

" Alcibiade, mon J? field gathering what 

amiably answered the eft on the dry, naked 

Jean Ba took the youngorted with satisfac- 

tionately in his, but limplyof-beats rang out 

hands. Bartner s closed firi. 



THE RETURN OF ALCIBIADE. 125 

" Urge the horses," Bartner said ; " they 
Ve had a good rest and we want to push on 
to Natchitoches." 

" You right, suh. We done los a whole 
blesse day, a plumb day." 

" Why, so we have," said Bartner, " I 
had n t thought of it." 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 

"TAKE de do an go! You year me? 
Take de do ! " 

Lolotte s brown eyes flamed. Her small 
frame quivered. She stood with her back 
turned to a meagre supper-table, as if to 
guard it from the man who had just en 
tered the cabin. She pointed toward the 
door, to order him from the house. 

" You mighty cross to-night, Lolotte. 
You mus got up wid de wrong foot to s 
mo nin . Hein, Veveste ? hein, Jacques, 
w at you say? " 

The two small urchins who sat at table 
giggled in sympathy with their father s evi 
dent good humor. 

" I m wo out, me ! " the girl exclaimed, 
desperately, as she let her arms fall limp at 
her side. "Work, work! Fu w at? Fu 
feed de lazies man in Natchitoches pa ish." 

" Now, Lolotte, you think w at you sayin ," 
expostulated her father. " Sylveste Bordon 
don ax nobody to feed - im." 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 127 

"Wen you brought a poun of suga in 
de house?" his daughter retorted hotly, "or 
a poun of coffee? Wen did you brought 
a piece o meat home, you ? An Nonomme 
all de time sick. Co n bread an po k, dat s 
good f u Yeveste an me an Jacques ; but 
Nonomme ? no ! " 

She turned as if choking, and cut into 
the round, soggy "pone" of corn bread 
which was the main feature of the scanty 
supper. 

" Po li le Nonomme ; we mus fine some in 
to break dat fevah. You want to kill a 
chicken once a w ile fu Nonomme, Lolotte." 
He calmly seated himself at the table. 

" Did n I done put de las roostah in de 
pot?" she cried with exasperation. "Now 
you come axen me fu kill de hen ! Were 
I goen to fine aigg to trade wid, w en de 
hen be gone ? Is I got one picayune in de 
house fu trade wid, me ? " 

" Papa," piped the young Jacques, " w at 
dat I yeard you drive in de yard, w ile go ? " 

"Dat s it ! Wen Lolotte would n been 
talken so fas , I could tole you bout dat job 
I got fu to-morrow. Dat was Joe Duplan s 
team of mule an wagon, wid t ree bale of 
cotton, w at you yaird. I got to go soon in 



128 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

de mo nin wid dat load to de landin . An 
a man mus eat w at got to work ; dat s 
sho." 

Lolotte s bare brown feet made no sound 
upon the rough boards as she entered the 
room where Nonomme lay sick and sleeping. 
She lifted the coarse mosquito net from 
about him, sat down in the clumsy chair by 
the bedside, and began gently to fan the 
slumbering child. 

Dusk was falling rapidly, as it does in 
the South. Lolotte s eyes grew round and 
big, as she watched the moon creep up from 
branch to branch of the moss-draped live- 
oak just outside her window. Presently the 
weary girl slept as profoundly as Nonomme. 
A little dog sneaked into the room, and so 
cially licked her bare feet. The touch, moist 
and warm, awakened Lolotte. 

The cabin was dark and quiet. Nonomme 
was crying softly, because the mosquitoes 
were biting him. In the room beyond, old 
Sylveste and the others slept. When Lo 
lotte had quieted the child, she went out 
side to get a pail of cool, fresh water at the 
cistern. Then she crept into bed beside 
Nonomme, who slept again. 

Lolotte s dreams that night pictured her 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 129 

father returning from work, and bringing 
luscious oranges home in his pocket for the 
sick child. 

When at the very break of day she heard 
him astir in his room, a certain comfort 
stole into her heart. She lay and listened 
to the faint noises of his preparations to go 
out. When he had quitted the house, she 
waited to hear him drive the wagon from 
the yard. 

She waited long, but heard no sound of 
horse s tread or wagon-wheel. Anxious, she 
went to the cabin door and looked out. The 
big mules were still where they had been 
fastened the night before. The wagon was 
there, too. 

Her heart sank. She looked quickly 
along the low rafters supporting the roof of 
the narrow porch to where her father s fish 
ing pole and pail always hung. Both were 
gone. 

u T ain no use, t ain no use," she said, 
as she turned into the house with a look of 
something like anguish in her eyes. 

When the spare breakfast was eaten and 
the dishes cleared away, Lolotte turned with 
resolute mien to the two little brothers. 

" Yeveste," she said to the older, "go see 



130 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

if dey got co n in dat wagon fu feed dem 
mule ." 

" Yes, dey got co n. Papa done feed em, 
fur I see de co n-cob in de trough, me." 

" Den you goen he p me hitch dem mule, 
to de wagon. Jacques, go down de lane 
an ax Aunt Minty if she come set wid No- 
nomme w ile I go drive dem mule to de 
landinV 

Lolotte had evidently determined to un 
dertake her father s work. Nothing could 
dissuade her; neither the children s aston 
ishment nor Aunt Minty s scathing disap 
proval. The fat black negress came laboring 
into the yard just as Lolotte mounted upon 
the wagon. 

" Git down f om dah, chile ! Is you plumb 
crazy ? " she exclaimed. 

" No, I ain t crazy ; I m hungry, Aunt 
Minty. We all hungry. Somebody got 
fur work in dis fam ly." 

" Dat ain t no work fur a gal w at ain t 
bar seventeen year ole ; drivin Marse Du- 
plan s mules ! Wat I gwine tell yo pa? " 

" Fu me, you kin tell im w at you want. 
But you watch Nonomme. I done cook his 
rice an set it side." 

" Don t you bodda," replied Aunt Minty ; 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 131 

" I got somepin heah fur my boy. I gwine 
ten to him." 

Lolotte had seen Aunt Minty put some 
thing out of sight when she came up, and 
made her produce it. It was a heavy fowl. 

" Sence w en you start raisin Brahma 
chicken , you?" Lolotte asked mistrustfully. 

" My, but you is a cu ious somebody ! 
Ev ything w at got fedders on its laigs is 
Brahma chicken wid you. Dis heah ole 
hen " - 

" All de same, you don t got fur give dat 
chicken to eat to Nonomme. You don t got 
fur cook im in my house." 

Aunt Minty, unheeding, turned to the 
house with blustering inquiry for her boy, 
while Lolotte drove away with great clatter. 

She knew, notwithstanding her injunction, 
that the chicken would be cooked and eaten. 
Maybe she herself would partake of it when 
she came back, if hunger drove her too 
sharply. 

"Nax thing I m goen be one rogue," 
she muttered ; and the tears gathered and 
fell one by one upon her cheeks. 

" It do look like one Brahma, Aunt 
Mint," remarked the small and weazened 
Jacques, as he watched the woman picking 
the lusty fowl. 



132 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

" How ole is you? " was her quiet retort. 

" I don know, me." 

" Den if you don t know dat much, you 
betta keep yo mouf shet, boy." 

Then silence fell, but for a monotonous 
chant which the woman droned as she 
worked. Jacques opened his lips once more. 

" It do look like one o Ma me Duplan 
Brahma, Aunt Mint." 

"Yonda, whar I come f om, befo de 
wah"- 

" Ole Kaintuck, Aunt Mint? " 

" Ole Kaintuck." 

" Dat ain t one country like dis yere, 
Aunt Mint?" 

"You mighty right, chile, dat ain t no 
sech kentry as dis heah. Yonda, in Kain 
tuck, w en boys says de word Brahma 
chicken, we takes an gags em, an ties dar 
han s behines em, an fo ces em ter stan up 
watchin folks settin down eatin chicken 
soup." 

Jacques passed the back of his hand across 
his mouth ; but lest the act should not place 
sufficient seal upon it, he prudently stole 
away to go and sit beside Nonomme, and 
wait there as patiently as he could the com 
ing feast. 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 133 

And what a treat it was ! The luscious 
soup, a great pot of it, golden yellow, 
thickened with the flaky rice that Lolotte 
had set carefully on the shelf. Each mouth 
ful of it seemed to carry fresh blood into 
the veins and a new brightness into the eyes 
of the hungry children who ate of it. 

And that was not all. The day brought 
abundance with it. Their father came home 
with glistening perch and trout that Aunt 
Minty broiled deliciously over glowing em 
bers, and basted with the rich chicken fat. 

" You see," explained old Sylveste, " w en 
I git up to s mo nin an see it was cloudy, 
I say to me, . Sylveste, w en you go wid 
dat cotton, rememba you got no tarpaulin. 
Maybe it rain, an de cotton was spoil. Betta 
you go yonda to Lafirme Lake, w ere de 
trout was bitin fas er an mosquito, an so 
you git a good mess fur de chil en. Lolotte 
w at she goen do yonda ? You ought 
stop Lolotte, Aunt Minty, w en you see w at 
she was want to do." 

" Did n I try to stop er ? Did n I ax er, 
4 W at I gwine tell yo pa ? An she low, 
4 Tell im to go hang hisse f, de triflind ole 
rapscallion ! I s de one w at s runnin dis 
heahfambly! " 



134 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

" Dat don soun like Lolotte, Aunt Minty ; 
you mus yaird er crooked ; hein, No- 
nomme ? " 

The quizzical look in his good-natured 
features was irresistible. Nonomme fairly 
shook with merriment. 

" My head feel so good," he declared. " I 
wish Lolotte would come, so I could tole 
er." And he turned in his bed to look 
down the long, dusty lane, with the hope of 
seeing her appear as he had watched her go, 
sitting on one of the cotton bales and guid 
ing the mules. 

But no one came all through the hot 
morning. Only at noon a broad-shouldered 
young negro appeared in view riding through 
the dust. When he had dismounted at the 
cabin door, he stood leaning a shoulder lazily 
against the jamb. 

" Well, heah you is," he grumbled, ad 
dressing Sylveste with no mark of respect. 
"Heah you is, settin down like comp ny, 
an Marse Joe yonda sont me see if you was 
dead." 

" Joe Duplan boun to have his joke, 
him," said Sylveste, smiling uneasily. 

" Maybe it look like a joke to you, but 
t aint no joke to him, man, to have one o 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 135 

his wagons smoshed to kindlin , an his bes 
team tearin t rough de country. You don t 
want to let im lay han s on you, joke o no 
joke." 

" Malediction ! " howled Sylveste, as he 
staggered to his feet. He stood for one in 
stant irresolute ; then he lurched past the 
man and ran wildly down the lane. He 
might have taken the horse that was there, 
but he went tottering on afoot, a frightened 
look in his eyes, as if his soul gazed upon 
an inward picture that was horrible. 

The road to the landing was little used. 
As Sylveste went he could readily trace the 
marks of Lolotte s wagon-wheels. For some 
distance they went straight along the road. 
Then they made a track as if a madman 
had directed their course, over stump and 
hillock, tearing the bushes and barking the 
trees on either side. 

At each new turn Sylveste expected to find 
Lolotte stretched senseless upon the ground, 
but, there was never a sign of her. 

At last he reached the landing, which was 
a dreary spot, slanting down to the river 
and partly cleared to afford room for what 
desultory freight might be left there from 
time to time. There were the wagon-tracks, 



136 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

clean down to the river s edge and partly in 
the water, where they made a sharp and 
senseless turn. But Sylveste found no trace 
of his girl. 

" Lolotte ! " the old man cried out into 
the stillness. " Lolotte, mafille, Lolotte ! " 
But no answer came ; no sound but the echo 
of his own voice, and the soft splash of the 
red water that lapped his feet. 

He looked down at it, sick with anguish 
and apprehension. 

Lolotte had disappeared as completely as 
if the earth had opened and swallowed her. 
After a few days it became the common be 
lief that the girl had been drowned. It was 
thought that she must have been hurled 
from the wagon into the water during the 
sharp turn that the wheel-tracks indicated, 
and carried away by the rapid current. 

During the days of search, old Sylveste s 
excitement kept him up. When it was over, 
an apathetic despair seemed to settle upon 
him. 

Madame Duplan, moved by sympathy, 
had taken the little four-year-old Nonomme 
to the plantation Les Cheniers, where the 
child was awed by the beauty and comfort 
of things that surrounded him there. He 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 137 

thought always that Lolotte would come 
back, and watched for her every day; for 
they did not tell him the sad tidings of her 
loss. 

The other two boys were placed in the 
temporary care of Aunt Minty ; and old Syl- 
veste roamed like a persecuted being through 
the country. He who had been a type of 
indolent content and repose had changed to 
a restless spirit. 

When he thought to eat, it was in some 
humble negro cabin that he stopped to ask 
for food, which was never denied him. His 
grief had clothed him with a dignity that 
imposed respect. 

One morning very early he appeared be 
fore the planter with a disheveled and hunted 
look. 

" M sieur Duplan," he said, holding his 
hat in his hand and looking away into va 
cancy, "I been try ev thing. I been "try 
settin down still on de sto gall ry. I been 
walk, I been run ; t ain no use. Dey got 
al ays some in w at push me. I go fishin , 
an it s some in w at push me worser an 
ever. By gracious ! ^M sieur Duplan, gi me 
some work ! " 

The planter gave him at once a plow in 



138 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

hand, and no plow on the whole plantation 
dug so deep as that one, nor so fast. Syl- 
veste was the first in the field, as he was the 
last one there. From dawn to nightfall he 
worked, and after, till his limbs refused to 
do his bidding. 

People came to wonder, and the negroes 
began to whisper hints of demoniacal posses 
sion. 

When Mr. Duplan gave careful thought 
to the subject of Lolotte s mysterious disap 
pearance, an idea came to him. But so 
fearful was he to arouse false hopes in the 
breasts of those who grieved for the girl that 
to no one did he impart his suspicions save 
to his wife. It was on the eve of a business 
trip to New Orleans that he told her what 
he thought, or what he hoped rather. 

Upon his return, which happened not 
many days later, he went out to where old 
Sylveste was toiling in the field with fren 
zied energy. 

"Sylveste," said the planter, quietly, when 
he had stood a moment watching the man at 
work, " have you given up all hope of hear 
ing from your daughter ? " 

" I don know, me ; I don know. Le me 
work, M sieur Duplan." 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 139 

" For my part, I believe the child is 
alive." 

" You b lieve dat, you ? " His rugged 
face was pitiful in its imploring lines. 

" I know it," Mr. Duplan muttered, as 
calmly as he could. " Hold up ! Steady 
yourself, man ! Come ; come with me to the 
house. There is some one there who knows 
it, too ; some one who has seen her." 

The room into which the planter led the 
old man was big, cool, beautiful, and sweet 
with the delicate odor of flowers. It was 
shady, too, for the shutters were half closed ; 
but not so darkened but Sylveste could at 
once see Lolotte, seated in a big wicker 
chair. 

She was almost as white as the gown she 
wore. Her neatly shod feet rested upon a 
cushion, and her black hair, that had been 
closely cut, was beginning to make little 
rings about her temples. 

" Aie ! " he cried sharply, at sight of her, 
grasping his seamed throat as he did so. 
Then he laughed like a madman, and then 
he sobbed. 

He only sobbed, kneeling upon the floor 
beside her, kissing her knees and her hands, 
that sought his. Little Nonomme was close 



140 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

to her, with a health flush creeping into his 
cheek. Veveste and Jacques were there, and 
rather awed by the mystery and grandeur of 
everything. 

" Were bouts you find her, M sieur Du- 
plan?" Sylveste asked, when the first flush 
of his joy had spent itself, and he was wiping 
his eyes with his rough cotton shirt sleeve. 

" M sieur Duplan find me way yonda to 
de city, papa, in de hospital," spoke Lolotte, 
before the planter could steady his voice to 
reply. " I did n know who ev ybody was, 
me. I did n know me, myse f , tell I tu n 
roun one day an see M sieur Duplan, w at 
stan en dere." 

" You was boun to know M sieur Duplan, 
Lolotte," laughed Sylveste, like a child. 

" Yes, an I know right way how dem 
mule was git frighten w en de boat w istle 
fu stop, an pitch me plumb on de groun . 
An I rememba it was one mulatresse w at 
call herse f one chernbamed, all de time aside 
me." 

" You must not talk too much, Lolotte," 
interposed Madame Duplan, coming to place 
her hand with gentle solicitude upon the 
girl s forehead, and to feel how her pulse 
beat. 



A RUDE AWAKENING. 141 

Then to save the child further effort of 
speech, she herself related how the boat had 
stopped at this lonely landing to take on a 
load of cotton-seed. Lolotte had been found 
stretched insensible by the river, fallen ap 
parently from the clouds, and had been taken 
on board. 

The boat had changed its course into 
other waters after that trip, and had not re 
turned to Duplan s Landing. Those who 
had tended Lolotte and left her at the hos 
pital supposed, no doubt, that she would 
make known her identity in time, and they 
had troubled themselves no further about 
her. 

" An dah you is ! " almost shouted aunt 
Minty, whose black face gleamed in the 
doorway ; " dah you is, settin down, lookin 
jis like w ite folks ! " 

" Ain t I always was w ite folks, Aunt 
Mint ? " smiled Lolotte, feebly. 

" G long, chile. You knows me. I don 
mean no harm." 

" And now, Sylveste," said Mr. Duplan, 
as he rose and started to walk the floor, with 
hands in his pockets, "listen to me. It will 
be a long ^ime before Lolotte is strong again. 
Aunt Minty is going to look after things for 



142 A RUDE AWAKENING. 

you till the child is fully recovered. But 
what I want to say is this: I shall trust 
these children into your hands once more, 
and I want you never to forget again that 
you are their father do you hear ? that 
you are a man ! " 

Old Sylveste stood with his hand in Lo- 
lotte s, who rubbed it lovingly against her 
cheek. 

"By gracious! M sieur Duplan," he an 
swered, " w en God want to he p me, I m 
goen try my bes ! " 



THE BENITOUS SLAVE. 

OLD Uncle Oswald believed he belonged 
to the Benitous, and there was no getting 
the notion out of his head. Monsieur tried 
every way, for there was no sense in it. 
Why, it must have been fifty years since 
the Benitous owned him. He had belonged 
to others since, and had later been freed. 
Beside, there was not a Benitou left in the 
parish now, except one rather delicate wo 
man, who lived with her little daughter in 
a corner of Natchitoches town, and con 
structed " fashionable millinery." The 
family had dispersed, and almost vanished, 
and the plantation as well had lost its iden 
tity. 

But that made no difference to Uncle Os 
wald. He was always running away from 
Monsieur who kept him out of pure kind 
ness and trying to get back to those Beni 
tous. 

More than that, he was constantly getting 
injured in such attempts. Once he fell into 



144 THE BEN IT US SLAVE. 

the bayou and was nearly drowned. Again 
he barely escaped being run down by an en 
gine. But another time, when he had been 
lost two days, and finally discovered in an 
unconscious and half-dead condition in the 
woods, Monsieur and Doctor Bonfils reluc 
tantly decided that it was time to " do some 
thing " with the old man. 

So, one sunny spring morning, Monsieur 
took Uncle Oswald in the buggy, and drove 
over to Natchitoches with him, intending to 
take the evening train for the institution in 
which the poor creature was to be cared for. 

It was quite early in the afternoon when 
they reached town, and Monsieur found him 
self with several hours to dispose of before 
train-time. He tied his horses in front of 
the hotel the quaintest old stuccoed house, 
too absurdly unlike a " hotel " for anything 
and entered. But he left Uncle Oswald 
seated upon a shaded bench just within the 
yard. 

There were people occasionally coming in 
and going out ; but no one took the smallest 
notice of the old negro drowsing over the 
cane that he held between his knees. The 
sight was common in Natchitoches. 

One who passed in was a little girl about 



THE BENITOUS SLAVE. 145 

twelve, with dark, kind eyes, and daintily 
carrying a parcel. She was dressed in blue 
calico, and wore a stiff white sun-bonnet, ex 
tinguisher fashion, over her brown curls. 

Just as she passed Uncle Oswald again, 
on her way out, the old man, half asleep, let 
fall his cane. She picked it up and handed 
it back to him, as any nice child would have 
done. 

" Oh, thankee, thankee, missy," stam 
mered Uncle Oswald, all confused at being 
waited upon by this little lady. " You is a 
putty li le gal. Wat s yo name, honey ? " 

* My name s Susanne ; Susanne Beni- 
tou," replied the girl. 

Instantly the old negro stumbled to his 
feet. Without a moment s hesitancy he fol 
lowed the little one out through the gate, 
down the street, and around the corner. 

It was an hour later that Monsieur, after 
a distracted search, found him standing upon 
the gallery of the tiny house in which Ma 
dame Beriitou kept " fashionable millinery." 

Mother and daughter were sorely per 
plexed to comprehend the intentions of the 
venerable servitor, who stood, hat in hand, 
persistently awaiting their orders. 

Monsieur understood and appreciated the 



146 THE BE N IT US SLAVE. 

situation at once, and he has prevailed upon 
Madame Benitou to accept the gratuitous 
services of Uncle Oswald for the sake of the 
old darky s own safety and happiness. 

Uncle Oswald never tries to run away 
now. He chops wood and hauls water. He 
cheerfully and faithfully bears the parcels 
that Susanne used to carry ; and makes an 
excellent cup of black coffee. 

I met the old man the other day in Natch- 
itoches, contentedly stumbling down St. 
Denis street with a basket of figs that some 
one was sending to his mistress. I asked 
him his name. 

" My name s Oswal , Madam ; Oswal 
dat s my name. I b longs to de Benitous," 
and some one told me his story then. 



DESIREE S BABY. 

As the day was pleasant, Madame Val 
monde drove over to L Abri to see Desiree 
and the baby. 

It made her laugh to think of De*siree 
with a baby. Why, it seemed but yester 
day that Desiree was little more than a baby 
herself ; when Monsieur in riding through 
the gateway of Valmonde* had found her 
lying asleep in the shadow of the big stone 
pillar. 

The little one awoke in his arms and 
began to cry for "Dada." That was as 
much as she could do or say. Some people 
thought she might have strayed there of her 
own accord, for she was of the toddling age. 
The prevailing belief was that she had been 
purposely left by a party of Texans, whose 
canvas-covered wagon, late in the day, had 
crossed the ferry that Coton Mais kept, just 
below the plantation. In time Madame 
Valmonde abandoned every speculation but 
the one that Desiree had been sent to her by 



148 DESIREE S BABY. 

a beneficent Providence to be the child of 
her affection, seeing that she was without 
child of the flesh. For the girl grew to be 
beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sin 
cere, the idol of Valmonde. 

It was no wonder, when she stood one day 
against the stone pillar in whose shadow she 
had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that 
Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her 
there, had fallen in love with her. That was 
the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if 
struck by a pistol shot. The wonder was 
that he had not loved her before ; for he had 
known her since his father brought him 
home from Paris, a boy of eight, after his 
mother died there. The passion that awoke 
in him that day, when he saw her at the 
gate, swept along like an avalanche, or like 
a prairie fire, or like anything that drives 
headlong over all obstacles. 

Monsieur Valmonde grew practical and 
wanted things well considered : that is, the 
girl s obscure origin. Armand looked into 
her eyes and did not care. He was reminded 
that she was nameless. What did it matter 
about a name when he could give her one of 
the oldest and proudest in Louisiana ? He 
ordered the corbeille from Paris, and con- 



DESIREE S BABY. 149 

tained himself with what patience he could 
until it arrived; then they were married. 

Madame Valmonde had not seen De*sire*e 
and the baby for four weeks. When she 
reached L Abri she shuddered at the first 
sight of it, as she always did. It was a sad 
looking place, which for many years had not 
known the gentle presence of a mistress, old 
Monsieur Aubigny having married and buried 
his wife in France, and she having loved her 
own land too well ever to leave it. The 
roof came down steep and black like a cowl, 
reaching out beyond the wide galleries that 
encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, 
solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick- 
leaved, far-reaching branches shadowed it 
like a pall. Young Aubigny s rule was a 
strict one, too, and under it his negroes had 
forgotten how to be gay, as they had been 
during the old master s easy-going and in 
dulgent lifetime. 

The young mother was recovering slowly, 
and lay full length, in her soft white mus 
lins and laces, upon a couch. The baby was 
beside her, upon her arm, where he had 
fallen asleep, at her breast. The yellow 
nurse woman sat beside a window fanning 
herself. 



150 DESIREE S BABY. 

Madame Valmonde bent her portly figure 
over Desiree and kissed her, holding her an 
instant tenderly in her arms. Then she 
turned to the child. 

" This is not the baby ! " she exclaimed, 
in startled tones. French was the language 
spoken at Valmonde in those days. 

"I knew you would be astonished," 
laughed Desiree, " at the way he has grown. 
The little cochon de lait ! Look at his 
legs, mamma, and his hands and finger 
nails, real finger-nails. Zandrine had to 
cut them this morning. Is n t it true, Zan 
drine?" 

The woman bowed her turbaned head 
majestically, " Mais si, Madame." 

" And the way he cries," went on Desiree, 
" is deafening. Armand heard him the other 
day as far away as La Blanche s cabin." 

Madame Valmonde had never removed 
her eyes from the child. She lifted it and 
walked with it over to the window that 
was lightest. She scanned the baby nar 
rowly, then looked as searchingly at Zan 
drine, whose face was turned to gaze across 
the fields. 

" Yes, the child has grown, has changed ; " 
said Madame Valmonde, slowly, as she re- 



DESIREE S BABY. 151 

placed it beside its mother. " What does 
Armand say?" 

Desiree s face became suffused with a glow 
that was happiness itself. 

" Oh, Armand is the proudest father in 
the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is 
a boy, to bear his name ; though he says 
not, that he would have loved a girl as 
well. But I know it is n t true. I know he 
says that to please me. And mamma," she 
added, drawing Madame Valmonde s head 
down to her, and speaking in a whisper, 
" he has n t punished one of them not one 
of them since baby is born. Even Ne- 
grillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg 
that he might rest from work he only 
laughed, and said Negrillon was a great 
scamp. Oh, mamma, I m so happy ; it 
frightens me." 

What Desiree said was true. Marriage, 
and later the birth of his son, had softened 
Armand Aubigny s imperious and exacting 
nature greatly. This was what made the 
gentle Desiree so happy, for she loved him 
desperately. When he frowned she trembled, 
but loved him. When he smiled, she asked 
no greater blessing of God. But Armand s 
dark, handsome face had not often been 



152 DESIREE S BABY. 

disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in 
love with her. 

When the baby was about three months 
old, Desiree awoke one day to the conviction 
that there was something in the air mena 
cing her peace. It was at first too subtle to 
grasp. It had only been a disquieting sug 
gestion ; an air of mystery among the blacks ; 
unexpected visits from far-off neighbors who 
could hardly account for their coming. Then 
a strange, an awful change in her husband s 
manner, which she dared not ask him to ex 
plain. When he spoke to her, it was with 
averted eyes, from which the old love-light 
seemed to have gone out. He absented him 
self from home ; and when there, avoided 
her presence and that of her child, with 
out excuse. And the very spirit of Satan 
seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his 
dealings with the slaves. Desiree was mis 
erable enough to die. 

She sat in her room, one hot afternoon, in 
her peignoir, listlessly drawing through her 
fingers the strands of her long, silky brown 
hair that hung about her shoulders. The 
baby, half naked, lay asleep upon her own 
great mahogany bed, that was like a sump 
tuous throne, with its satin-lined half -canopy. 



DESIREE S BABY. 153 

One of La Blanche s little quadroon boys 
half naked too stood fanning the child 
slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. De- 
siree s eyes had been fixed absently and sadly 
upon the baby, while she was striving to 
penetrate the threatening mist that she felt 
closing about her. She looked from her 
child to the boy who stood beside him, and 
back again ; over and over. " Ah ! " It 
was a cry that she could not help ; which 
she was not conscious of having uttered. 
The blood turned like ice in her veins, 
and a clammy moisture gathered upon her 
face. 

She tried to speak to the little quadroon 
boy ; but no sound would come, at first. 
When he heard his name uttered, he looked 
up, and his mistress was pointing to the door. 
He laid aside the great, soft fan, and obedi 
ently stole away, over the polished floor, on 
his bare tiptoes. 

She stayed motionless, with gaze riveted 
upon her child, and her face the picture of 
fright. 

Presently her husband entered the room, 
and without noticing her, went to a table 
and began to search among some papers 
which covered it. 



154 DESIRE&S BABY. 

" Armand," she called to him, in a voice 
which must have stabbed him, if he was 
human. But he did not notice. " Ar 
mand," she said again. Then she rose and 
tottered towards him. " Armand," she 
panted once more, clutching his arm, " look 
at our child. What does it mean? tell 
me." 

He coldly but gently loosened her fingers 
from about his arm and thrust the hand 
away from him. u Tell me what it means! " 
she cried despairingly. 

"It means," he answered lightly, "that 
the child is not white ; it means that you are 
not white." 

A quick conception of all that this accu 
sation meant for her nerved her with un 
wonted courage to deny it. " It is a lie ; it 
is not true, I am white ! Look at my hair, 
it is brown ; and my eyes are gray, Armand, 
you know they are gray. And my skin is 
fair," seizing his wrist. " Look at my hand ; 
whiter than yours, Armand," she laughed 
hysterically. 

" As white as La Blanche s," he returned 
cruelly; and went away leaving her alone 
with their child. 

When she could hold a pen in her hand, 



DESIREWS BABY. 155 

she sent a despairing letter to Madame Val- 
monde. 

" My mother, they tell me I am not white. 
Armand has told me I am not white. For 
God s sake tell them it is not true. You 
must know it is not true. I shall die. I 
must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and 
live." , 

The answer that came was as brief : 

" My own Desiree : Come home to Val- 
monde ; back to your mother who loves you. 
Come with your child." 

When the letter reached Desiree she went 
with it to her husband s study, and laid it 
open upon the desk before which he sat. 
She was like a stone image : silent, white, 
motionless after she placed it there. 

In silence he ran his cold eyes over the 
written words. He said nothing. " Shall 
I go, Armand ? " she asked in tones sharp 
with agonized suspense. 

" Yes, go." 

" Do you want me to go ?" 

" Yes, I want you to go." 

He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly 
and unjustly with him ; and felt, somehow, 
that he was paying Him back in kind when 
he stabbed thus into his wife s soul. More- 



156 DESIRE E S BABY. 

\ 

over he no longer loved her, because of the 
unconscious injury she had brought upon his 
home and his name. 

She turned away like one stunned by a 
blow, and walked slowly towards the door, 
hoping he would call her back. 

" Good-by, Armand," she moaned. 

He did not answer her. That was his last 
blow at fate. 

Desiree went in search of her child. Zan- 
drine was pacing the sombre gallery with it. 
She took the little one from the nurse s arms 
with no word of explanation, and descend 
ing the steps, walked away, under the live- 
oak branches. 

It was an October afternoon ; the sun 
was just sinking. Out in the still fields the 
negroes were picking cotton. 

Desiree had not changed the thin .white 
garment nor the slippers which she wore. 
Her hair was uncovered and the sun s rays 
brought a golden gleam from its brown 
meshes. She did not take the broad, beaten 
road which led to the far-off plantation of 
Valmonde. She walked across a deserted 
field, where the stubble bruised her tender 
feet, so delicately shod, and tore her thin 
gown to shreds. 



DESIREE S BABY. 157 

She disappeared among the reeds and wil 
lows that grew thick along the banks of the 
deep, sluggish bayou ; and she did not come 
back again. 

Some weeks later there was a curious scene 
enacted at L Abri. In the centre of the 
smoothly swept back yard was a great bon 
fire. Armand Aubigny sat in the wide hall 
way that commanded a view of the specta 
cle ; and it was he who dealt out to a half 
dozen negroes the material which kept this 
fire ablaze. 

A graceful cradle of willow, with all its 
dainty furbishings, was laid upon the pyre, 
which had already been fed with the rich 
ness of a priceless layette. Then there were 
silk gowns, and velvet and satin ones added 
to these ; laces, too, and embroideries ; bon 
nets and gloves ; for the corbeille had been 
of rare quality. 

The last thing to go was a tiny bundle of 
letters ; innocent little scribblings that De- 
siree had sent to him during the days of 
their espousal. There was the remnant of 
one back in the drawer from which he took 
them. But it was not Desiree s ; it was 
part of an old letter from his mother to his 



158 DESIREE S BABY. 

father. He read it. She was thanking God 
for the blessing of her husband s love : 

" But, above all," she wrote, " night and 
day, I thank the good God for having so 
arranged our lives that our dear Armand 
will never know that his mother, who adores 
him, belongs to the race that is cursed with 
the brand of slavery." 



A TURKEY HUNT. 

THREE of Madame s finest bronze turkeys 
were missing from the brood. It was near- 
ing Christmas, and that was the reason, 
perhaps, that even Monsieur grew agitated 
when the discovery was made. The news 
was brought to the house by Severin s boy, 
who had seen the troop at noon a half mile 
up the bayou three short. Others reported 
the deficiency as even greater. So, at about 
two in the afternoon, though a cold drizzle 
had begun to fall, popular feeling in the 
matter was so strong that all the household 
forces turned out to search for the missing 
gobblers. 

Alice, the housemaid, went down the river, 
and Polisson, the yard -boy, went up the 
bayou. Others crossed the fields, and Arte- 
mise was rather vaguely instructed to "go 
look too." 

Artemise is in some respects an extraordi 
nary person. In age she is anywhere between 
ten and fifteen, with a head not unlike in 



158 DESIRE&S BABY. 

father. He read it. She was thanking God 
for the blessing of her husband s love : 

" But, above all," she wrote, " night and 
day, I thank the good God for having so 
arranged our lives that our dear Armand 
will never know that his mother, who adores 
him, belongs to the race that is cursed with 
the brand of slavery." 



habitually uses to indicate a locality, 
she meant was that she slept in the hall. 

Again, another time, she came with an 
armful of wood, and having deposited it 
upon the hearth, turned to stare fixedly at 
me, with folded hands. 

" Did Madame send you to build a fire, 
Artemise?" I hastened to ask, feeling un 
comfortable under the look. 

" Ya, >m." 



A TURKEY HUNT. 

THEEE of Madame s finest bronze turkeys 
were missing from the brood. It was near- 
ing Christmas, and that was the reason, 
perhaps, that even Monsieur grew agitated 
when the discovery was made. The news 
was brought to the house by Severin s boy, 
who had seen the troop at noon a half mile 
up the bayou three short. Others reported 
the deficiency as even greater. So, at about 
two in the afternoon, though a cold drizzle 
had begun to fall, popular feeling in the 
matter was so strong that all the household 
f nance that she possibly had information to 
give, if any inducement were offered her in 
the shape of a question. 

"Have you found the turkeys, Arte- 
mise ? " Madame hastened to ask. 
" Ya, m." 

" You Artemise ! " shouted Aunt Flo- 
rindy, the cook, who was passing through 
the hall with a batch of newly baked light 
bread. " She s a-lyin , mist ess, if dey ever 



162 A TURKEY HUNT. 

was ! You foun dem turkeys ? " turning 
upon the child. " Whar was you at, de 
whole blesse time? Warn t you stan in 
plank up agin de back o de hen- ous ? 
Never budged a inch ? Don t jaw me down, 
gal ; don t jaw me ! " Artemise was only gaz 
ing at Aunt Florin dy with unruffled calm. 
" I warn t gwine tell on er, but arter dat 
untroof, I boun to." 

" Let her alone, Aunt Florindy," Madame 
interfered. "Where are the turkeys, Ar 
temise ? " 

" Yon a," she simply articulated, bringing 
the pump-handle motion of her arm into 
play. 

" Where yonder ? " Madame demanded, 
a little impatiently. 

" In uh hen- ous !" 

Sure enough ! The three missing turkeys 
had been accidentally locked up in the 
morning when the chickens were fed. 

Artemise, for some unknown reason, had 
hidden herself during the search behind the 
hen-house, and had heard their muffled 
gobble. 



MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 

MADAME CELESTIN always wore a neat 
and snugly fitting calico wrapper when she 
went out in the morning to sweep her small 
gallery. Lawyer Paxton thought she looked 
very pretty in the gray one that was made 
with a graceful Watteau fold at the back : 
and with which she invariably wore a bow of 
pink ribbon at the throat. She was always 
sweeping her gallery when lawyer Paxton 
passed by in the morning on his way to his 
office in St. Denis Street. 

Sometimes he stopped and leaned over 
the fence to say good-morning at his ease ; 
to criticise or admire her rosebushes ; or, 
when he had time enough, to hear what she 
had to say. Madame Celestin usually had 
a good deal to say. She would gather up 
the train of her calico wrapper in one hand, 
and balancing the broom gracefully in the 
other, would go tripping down to where the 
lawyer leaned, as comfortably as he could, 
over her picket fence. 



164 MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 

Of course she had talked to him of her 
troubles. Every one knew Madame Celes- 
tin s troubles. 

" Really, madame," he told her once, in his 
deliberate, calculating, lawyer - tone, " it s 
more than human nature woman s nature 
should be called upon to endure. Here 
you are, working your fingers off " she 
glanced down at two rosy finger-tips that 
showed through the rents in her baggy doe 
skin gloves " taking in sewing ; giving 
music lessons ; doing God knows what in 
the way of manual labor to support yourself 
and those two little ones " Madame Ce- 
lestin s pretty face beamed with satisfaction 
at this enumeration of her trials. 

" You right, Judge. Not a picayune, not 
one, not one, have I lay my eyes on in the 
pas fo months that I can say Celestin give 
it to me or sen it to me." 

" The scoundrel !" muttered lawyer Pax- 
ton in his beard. 

" An pourtant" she resumed, " they say 
he s making money down roun Alexandria 
w en he wants to work." 

" I dare say you have n t seen him for 
months ? " suggested the lawyer. 

" It s good six month since I see a sight 
of Celestin," she admitted. 



MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 165 

" That s it, that s what I say ; he has 
practically deserted you; fails to support 
you. It wouldn t surprise me a bit to learn 
that he has ill treated you." 

" Well, you know, Judge," with an eva 
sive cough, " a man that drinks w at can 
you expec ? An if you would know the 
promises he has made me ! Ah, if I had as 
many dolla as I had promise from Celestin, 
I would n have to work,Je vous garantis." 

" And in my opinion, madame, you would 
be a foolish woman to endure it longer, 
when the divorce court is there to offer you 
redress." 

" You spoke about that bef o , Judge ; I m 
goin think about that divo ce. I believe 
you right." 

Madame Celestin thought about the di 
vorce and talked about it, too ; and lawyer 
Paxton grew deeply interested in the theme. 

" You know, about that divo ce, Judge," 
Madame Celestin was waiting for him that 
morning, " I been talking to my family an 
my f rien s, an it s me that tells you, they all 
plumb agains that divo ce." 

" Certainly, to be sure ; that s to be 
expected, madame, in this community of 
Creoles. I warned you that you would 



166 MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 

meet with opposition, and would have to 
face it and brave it." 

"Oh, don t fear, I m going to face it! 
Maman says it s a disgrace like it s neva 
been in the family. But it s good for Ma 
man to talk, her. Wat trouble she ever 
had ? She says I mus go by all means con 
sult with Pere Ducheron it s my confes 
sor, you undastan Well, 1 11 go, Judge, 
to please Maman. But all the confessor in 
the worl ent goin make me put up with 
that conduc of Celestin any longa." 

A day or two later, she was there waiting 
for him again. " You know, Judge, about 
that divo ce." 

"Yes, yes," responded the lawyer, well 
pleased to trace a new determination in her 
brown eyes and in the curves of her pretty 
mouth. " I suppose you saw Pere Duche 
ron and had to brave it out with him, too." 

" Oh, fo that, a perfec sermon, I assho 
you. A talk of giving scandal an bad ex 
ample that I thought would neva en ! He 
says, fo him, he wash his hands ; I mus 
go see the bishop." 

" You won t let the bishop dissuade you, 
I trust," stammered the lawyer more anx 
iously than he could well understand. 



MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 167 

" You don t know me yet, Judge," 
laughed Madame Celestin with a turn of 
the head and a flirt of the broom which in 
dicated that the interview was at an end. 

" Well, Madame Celestin ! And the 
bishop ! " Lawyer Paxton was standing 
there holding to a couple of the shaky 
pickets. She had not seen him. " Oh, it s 
you, Judge ? " and she hastened towards 
him with an empressement that could not 
but have been flattering. 

"Yes, I saw Monseigneur," she began. 
The lawyer had already gathered from her 
expressive countenance that she had not 
wavered in her determination. "Ah, he s 
a eloquent man. It s not a mo eloquent 
man in Natchitoches parish. I was fo ced 
to cry, the way he talked to me about my 
troubles ; how he undastan s them, an feels 
for me. It would move even you, Judge, 
to hear how he talk about that step I want 
to take ; its danga, its temptation. How 
it is the duty of a Catholic to stan every 
thing till the las extreme. An that life of 
retirement an self-denial I would have to 
lead, he tole me all that." 

" But he has n t turned you from your 
resolve, I see," laughed the lawyer compla 
cently. 



168 MADAME CELESTIWS DIVORCE. 

"For that, no," she returned emphati 
cally. "The bishop don t know w at it is 
to be married to a man like Celestin, an 
have to endu that conduc like I have to 
endu it. The Pope himse f can t make me 
stan that any longer, if you say I got the 
right in the law to sen Celestin sailing/ 

A noticeable change had come over lawyer 
Paxton. He discarded his work-day coat 
and began to wear his Sunday one to the 
office. He grew solicitous as to the shine 
of his boots, his collar, and the set of his 
tie. He brushed and trimmed his whiskers 
with a care that had not before been appar 
ent. Then he fell into a stupid habit of 
dreaming as he walked the streets of the 
old town. It would be very good to take 
unto himself a wife, he dreamed. And he 
could dream of no other than pretty Ma 
dame Celestin filling that sweet and sacred 
office as she filled his thoughts, now. Old 
Natchitoches would not hold them comfort 
ably, perhaps ; but the world was surely 
wide enough to live in, outside of Natchi 
toches town. 

His heart beat in a strangely irregular 
manner as he neared Madame Celestin s 
house one morning, and discovered her be- 



MADAME CELESTIN S DIVORCE. 169 

hind the rosebushes, as usual plying her 
broom. She had finished the gallery and 
steps and was sweeping the little brick walk 
along the edge of the violet border. 
" Good-morning, Madame Celestin." 
" Ah, it s you, Judge ? Good-morning." 
He waited. She seemed to be doing the 
same. Then she ventured, with some hesi 
tancy, "You know, Judge, about that di- 
vo ce. I been thinking, I reckon you 
betta neva mine about that divo ce." She 
was making deep rings in the palm of her 
gloved hand with the end of the broom- 
handle, and looking at them critically. Her 
face seemed to the lawyer to be unusually 
rosy ; but maybe it was only the reflection 
of the pink bow at the throat. " Yes, I 
reckon you need n mine. You see, Judge, 
Celestin came home las night. An he s 
promise me on his word an honor he s going 
to turn ova a new leaf." 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

UPON the pleasant veranda of Pere An- 
toine s cottage, that adjoined the church, a 
young girl had long been seated, awaiting 
his return. It was the eve of Easter Sun 
day, and since early afternoon the priest had 
been engaged in hearing the confessions of 
those who wished to make their Easters 
the following day. The girl did not seem 
impatient at his delay ; on the contrary, it 
was very restful to her to lie back in the 
big chair she had found there, and peep 
through the thick curtain of vines at the 
people who occasionally passed along the 
village street. 

She was slender, with a frailness that 
indicated lack of wholesome and plentiful 
nourishment. A pathetic, uneasy look was 
in her gray eyes, and even faintly stamped 
her features, which were fine and delicate. 
In lieu of a hat, a barege veil covered her 
light brown and abundant hair. She wore 
a coarse white cotton " josie," and a blue 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIE U. 171 

calico skirt that only half concealed her 
tattered shoes. 

As she sat there, she held carefully in 
her lap a parcel of eggs securely fastened 
in a red bandana handkerchief. 

Twice already a handsome, stalwart young 
man in quest of the priest had entered the 
yard, and penetrated to where she sat. At 
first they had exchanged the uncompromis 
ing " howdy " of strangers, and nothing 
more. The second time, finding the priest 
still absent, he hesitated to go at once. 
Instead, he * stood upon the step, and nar 
rowing his brown eyes, gazed beyond the 
river, off towards the west, where a murky 
streak of mist was spreading across the sun. 

"It look like mo rain," he remarked, 
slowly and carelessly. 

" We done had bout nough," she re 
plied, in much the same tone. 

" It s no chance to thin out the cotton," 
he went on. 

" An the Bon-Dieu," she resumed, " it s 
on y to-day you can cross him on foot." 

" You live yonda on the Bon-Dieu, done ? " 
he asked, looking at her for the first time 
since he had spoken. 

" Yas, by Nid d Hibout, m sieur." 



172 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

Instinctive courtesy held him from ques 
tioning her further. But he seated himself 
on the step, evidently determined to wait 
there for the priest. He said no more, but 
sat scanning critically the steps, the porch, 
and pillar beside him, from which he occa 
sionally tore away little pieces of detached 
wood, where it was beginning to rot at its 
base. 

A click at the side gate that communi 
cated with the churchyard soon announced 
Pre Antoine s return. He came hurriedly 
across the garden-path, between the tall, 
lusty rosebushes that lined either side of 
it, which were now fragrant with blossoms. 
His long, flapping cassock added something 
of height to his undersized, middle-aged 
figure, as did the skullcap which rested 
securely back on his head. He saw only 
the young man at first, who rose at his 
approach. 

" Well, Azenor," he called cheerily in 
French, extending his hand. " How is this ? 
I expected you all the week." 

" Yes, monsieur ; but I knew well what 
you wanted with me, and I was finishing the 
doors for Gros-Leon s new house ; " saying 
which, he drew back, and indicated by a 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 173 

motion and look that some one was present 
who had a prior claim upon Pere Antoine s 
attention. 

" Ah, Lalie ! " the priest exclaimed, when 
he had mounted to the porch, and saw her 
there behind the vines. "Have you been 
waiting here since you confessed? Surely 
an hour ago ! " 

" Yes, monsieur." 

" You should rather have made some 
visits in the village, child." 

"I am not acquainted with any one in 
the village," she returned. 

The priest, as he spoke, had drawn a 
chair, and seated himself beside her, with 
his hands comfortably clasping his knees. 
He wanted to know how things were out on 
the bayou. 

"And how is the grandmother?" he 
asked. "As cross and crabbed as ever? 
And with that" he added reflectively 
"good for ten years yet! I said only yes 
terday to Butrand you know Butrand, he 
works on Le Blot s Bon-Dieu place And 
that Madame Zidore: how is it with her, 
Butrand ? I believe God has forgotten Ijer 
here on earth. 4 It is n t that, your rever 
ence, said Butrand, but it s neither God 



174 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

nor the Devil that wants her ! And Pre 
Antoine laughed with a jovial frankness that 
took all sting of ill-nature from his very 
pointed remarks. 

Lalie did not reply when he spoke of 
her grandmother ; she only pressed her lips 
firmly together, and picked nervously at the 
red bandana. 

" I have come to ask, Monsieur Antoine," 
she began, lower than she needed to speak 
for Azenor had withdrawn at once to the 
far end of the porch " to ask if you will 
give me a little scrap of paper a piece of 
writing for Monsieur Chartrand at the store 
over there. I want new shoes and stock 
ings for Easter, and I have brought eggs to 
trade for them. He says he is willing, yes, 
if he was sure I would bring more every 
week till the shoes are paid for." 

With good-natured indifference, Pere An 
toine wrote the order that the girl desired. 
He was too familiar with distress to feel 
keenly for a girl who was able to buy Eas 
ter shoes and pay for them with eggs. 

She went immediately away then, after 
shaking hands with the priest, and sending 
a quick glance of her pathetic eyes towards 
Azenor, who had turned when he heard her 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 175 

rise, and nodded when he caught the look. 
Through the vines he watched her cross the 
village street. 

" How is it that you do not know Lalie, 
Azenor? You surely must have seen her 
pass your house often. It lies on her way 
to the Bon-Dieu." 

"No, I don t know her; I have never 
seen her,", the young man replied, as he 
seated himself after the priest and kept 
his eyes absently fixed on the store across 
the road, where he had seen her enter. 

" She is the granddaughter of that Ma 
dame Izidore " 

" What ! Ma ame Zidore whom they drove 
off the island last winter? " 

" Yes, yes. Well, you know, they say the 
old woman stole wood and things, I don t 
know how true it is, and destroyed peo 
ple s property out of pure malice." 

" And she lives now on the Bon-Dieu ? " 

"Yes, on Le Blot s place, in a perfect 
wreck of a cabin. You see, she gets it for 
nothing ; not a negro on the place but has 
refused to live in it." 

" Surely, it can t be that old abandoned 
hovel near the swamp, that Michon occu 
pied ages ago?" 



176 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

" That is the one, the very one." 

" And the girl lives there with that old 
wretch ? " the young man marveled. 

"Old wretch to be sure, Azenor. But 
what can you expect from a woman who 
never crosses the threshold of God s house 
who even tried to hinder the child doing 
so as well ? But I went to her. I said : 
See here, Madame Zidore, you know 
it s my way to handle such people without 
gloves, you may damn your soul if you 
choose, I told her, that is a privilege which 
we all have ; but none of us has a right to 
imperil the salvation of another. I want 
to see Lalie at mass hereafter on Sundays, 
or you will hear from me ; and I shook my 
stick under her nose. Since then the child 
has never missed a Sunday. But she is 
half starved, you can see that. You saw 
how shabby she is how broken her shoes 
are? She is at Chartrand s now, trading 
for new ones with those eggs she brought, 
poor thing ! There is no doubt of her being 
ill-treated. Butrand says he thinks Madame 
Zidore even beats the child. I don t know 
how true it is, for no power can make her 
utter a word against her grandmother." 

Azenor, whose face was a kind and sensi- 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 177 

tive one, had paled with distress as the 
priest spoke ; and now at these final words 
he quivered as though he felt the sting of a 
cruel blow upon his own flesh. 

But no more was said of Lalie, for Pere 
Antoine drew the young man s attention to 
the carpenter-work which he wished to in 
trust to him. When they had talked the 
matter over in all its lengthy details, Aze- 
nor mounted his horse and rode away. 

A moment s gallop carried him outside the 
village. Then came a half-mile strip along 
the river to cover. Then the lane to enter, 
in which stood his dwelling midway, upon a 
low, pleasant knoll. 

As Azenor turned into the lane, he saw 
the figure of Lalie far ahead of him. Some 
how he had expected to find her there, 
and he watched her again as he had done 
through Pere Antoine s vines. When she 
passed his house, he wondered if she would 
turn to look at it. But she did not. How 
could she know it was his ? Upon reaching 
it himself, he did not enter the yard, but 
stood there motionless, his eyes always fas 
tened upon the girl s figure. He could not 
see, away off there, how coarse her garments 
were. She seemed, through the distance 



178 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

that divided them, as slim and delicate as 
a flower-stalk. He stayed till she reached 
the turn of the lane and disappeared into 
the woods. 

Mass had not yet begun when Azenor tip 
toed into church on Easter morning. He 
did not take his place with the congregation, 
but stood close to the holy-water font, and 
watched the people who entered. 

Almost every girl who passed him wore a 
white mull, a dotted swiss, or a fresh-starched 
muslin at least. They were bright with rib 
bons that hung from their persons, and flow 
ers that bedecked their hats. Some car 
ried fans and cambric handkerchiefs. Most 
of them wore gloves, and were odorant of 
poudre de riz and nice toilet-waters ; while 
all carried gay little baskets filled with Eas 
ter-eggs. 

But there was one who came empty-handed, 
save for the worn prayer-book which she 
bore. It was Lalie, the veil upon her head, 
and wearing the blue print and cotton bodice 
which she had worn the day before. 

He dipped his hand into the holy water 
when she came, and held it out to her, 
though he had not thought of doing this for 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 179 

the others. She touched his fingers with 
the tips of her own, making a slight inclina 
tion as she did so ; and after a deep genu 
flection before the Blessed Sacrament, passed 
on to the side. He was not sure if she had 
known him. He knew she had not looked 
into his eyes, for he would have felt it. 

He was angered against other young 
women who passed him, because of their 
flowers and ribbons, when she wore none. 
He himself did not care, but he feared she 
might, and watched her narrowly to see if 
she did. 

But it was plain that Lalie did not care. 
Her face, as she seated herself, settled into 
the same restful lines it had worn yesterday, 
when she sat in Pere Aiitoine s big chair. It 
seemed good to her to be there. Sometimes 
she looked up at the little colored panes 
through which the Easter sun was stream 
ing ; then at the flaming candles, like stars ; 
or at the embowered figures of Joseph and 
Mary, flanking the central tabernacle which 
shrouded the risen Christ. Yet she liked 
just as well to watch the young girls in their 
spring freshness, or to sensuously inhale the 
mingled odor of flowers and incense that 
filled the temple. 



180 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

Lalie was among the last to quit the 
church. When she walked down the clean 
pathway that led from it to the road, she 
looked with pleased curiosity towards the 
groups of men and maidens who were gayly 
matching their Easter-eggs under the shade 
of the China-berry trees. 

Azenor was among them, and when he 
saw her coming solitary down the path, he 
approached her and, with a smile, extended 
his hat, whose crown was quite lined with 
the pretty colored eggs. 

" You mus of forgot to bring aiggs," he 
said. " Take some o mine." 

" Non, merci," she replied, flushing and 
drawing back. 

But he urged them anew upon her. Much 
pleased, then, she bent her pretty head over 
the hat, and was evidently puzzled to make 
a selection among so many that were beau 
tiful. 

He picked out one for her, a pink one, 
dotted with white clover-leaves. 

" Yere," he said, handing it to her, " I 
think this is the pretties ; an it look strong 
too. I m sho it will break all of the res ." 
And he playfully held out another, half- 
hidden in his fist, for her to try its strength 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIE U. 181 

upon. But she refused to. She would not 
risk the ruin of her pretty egg. Then she 
walked away, without once having noticed 
that the girls, whom Azenor had left, were 
looking curiously at her. 

When he rejoined them, he was hardly 
prepared for their greeting ; it startled him. 

" How come you talk to that girl ? She s 
real canaille, her," was what one of them 
said to him. 

" Who say so ? Who say she s canaille ? 
If it s a man, I 11 smash is head ! " he ex 
claimed, livid. They all laughed merrily at 
this. 

" An if it s a lady, Azenor ? W at you 
goin to do bout it ? " asked another, quiz- 
zingly. 

" T ain no lady. No lady would say that 
bout a po girl, w at she don t even know." 

He turned away, and emptying all his 
eggs into the hat of a little urchin who stood 
near, walked out of the churchyard. He 
did not stop to exchange another word with 
any one ; neither with the men who stood 
all endimanches before the stores, nor the 
women who were mounting upon horses and 
into vehicles, or walking in groups to their 
homes. 



182 LOVE ON THE BON-DIE U. 

He took a short cut across the cotton-field 
that extended back of the town, and walk 
ing rapidly, soon reached his home. It was 
a pleasant house of few rooms and many 
windows, with fresh air blowing through 
from every side ; his workshop was beside it. 
A broad strip of greensward, studded here 
and there with trees, sloped down to the 
road. 

Azenor entered the kitchen, where an 
amiable old black woman was chopping 
onion and sage at a table. 

" Tranquiline," he said abruptly, " they s 
a young girl goin to pass yere afta a w ile. 
She s got a blue dress an w ite josie on, an 
a veil on her head. Wen you see her, I 
want you to go to the road an make her res 
there on the bench, an ask her if she don t 
want a cup o coffee. I saw her go to com 
munion, me ; so she did n t eat any break- 
fas . Eve ybody else f om out o town, that 
went to communion, got invited somew ere 
another. It s enough to make a person sick 
to see such meanness." 

" An you want me ter go down to de 
gate, jis so, an ax er pineblank ef she 
wants some coffee ? " asked the bewildered 
Tranquiline. 



LOVE ON THE SON-DIE U. 183 

" I don t care if you ask her poin blank 
o not; but you do like I say." Tranqui- 
line was leaning over the gate when Lalie 
came along. 

" Howdy," offered the woman. 

" Howdy," the girl returned. 

" Did you see a yalla calf wid black spots 
a t arin down de lane, missy?" 

" Non ; not yalla, an not with black spot . 
Mais I see one li le w ite calf tie by a rope, 
yonda roun the ben ." 

" Dat warn t hit. Dis heah one was yalla. 
I hope he done flung hisse f down de bank 
an broke his nake. Sarve im right ! But 
whar you come f om, chile ? You look plum 
wo out. Set down dah on dat bench, an le 
me fotch you a cup o coffee." 

Azeiior had already in his eagerness ar 
ranged a tray, upon which was a smoking 
cup of cafe au lait. He had buttered and 
jellied generous slices of bread, and was 
searching wildly for something when Tran- 
quiline reentered. 

" Wat become o that half of chicken-pie, 
Tranquiline, that was yere in the garde 
manger yesterday ? " 

" Wat chicken-pie ? Wat garde man 
ger ? " blustered the woman. 



184 LOVE ON THE BON-D1EU. 

" Like we got mo en one garde manger 
in the house, Tranquiline ! " 

" You jis like ole Ma ame Azeiior use to 
be, you is ! You spec chicken-pie gwine las 
etarnal ? Wen some pin done sp ilt, I flings 
it way. Dat s me dat s Tranquiline ! " 

So Azenor resigned himself, what else 
could he do ? and sent the tray, incom 
plete, as he fancied it, out to Lalie. 

He trembled at thought of what he did ; 
he, whose nerves were usually as steady as 
some piece of steel mechanism. 

Would it anger her if she suspected ? 
Would it please her if she knew ? Would 
she say this or that to Tranquiline? And 
would Tranquiline tell him truly what she 
said how she looked ? 

As it was Sunday, Azenor did not work 
that afternoon. Instead, he took a book 
out under the trees, as he often did, and sat 
reading it, from the first sound of the Ves 
per bell, that came faintly across the fields, 
till the Angelus. All that time ! He 
turned many a page, yet in the end did not 
know what he had read. With his pencil 
he had traced " Lalie " upon every margin, 
and was saying it softly to himself. 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIE U. 185 

Another Sunday Azenor saw Lalie at 
mass and again. Once he walked with 
her and showed her the short cut across 
the cotton-field. She was very glad that 
day, and told him she was going to work 
her grandmother said she might. She was 
going to hoe, up in the fields with Monsieur 
Le Blot s hands. He entreated her not to ; 
and when she asked his reason, he could not 
tell her, but turned and tore shyly and sav 
agely at the elder-blossoms that grew along 
the fence. 

Then they stopped where she was going 
to cross the fence from the field into the 
lane. He wanted to tell her that was his 
house which they could see not far away ; 
but he did not dare to, since he had fed her 
there on the morning she was hungry. 

" An you say yo gran ma s goin to let 
you work? She keeps you f om workin , 
done ? " He wanted to question her about 
her grandmother, and could think of no 
other way to begin. 

" Po ole grand mre ! " she answered. " I 
don b lieve she know mos time w at she s 
doin . Sometime she say I aint no betta 
an one nigga, an she fo ce me to work. 
Then she say she know I m goin be one 



186 LOVE ON THE BON-DIE U. 

canaille like mam an, an she make me set 
down still, like she would want to kill me if 
I would move. Pier, she on y want to be 
out in the wood , day an night, day an night. 
She am got her right head, po grand mere. 
I know she ain t." 

Lalie had spoken low and in jerks, as if 
every word gave her pain. Azenor could 
feel her distress as plainly as he saw it. He 
wanted to say something to her to do 
something for her. But her mere presence 
paralyzed him into inactivity except his 
pulses, that beat like hammers when he was 
with her. Such a poor, shabby little thing 
as she was, too ! 

" I m goin to wait yere nex Sunday fo 
you, Lalie," he said, when the fence was be 
tween them. And he thought he had said 
something very daring. 

But the next Sunday she did not come. 
She was neither at the appointed place of 
meeting in the lane, nor was she at mass. 
Her absence so unexpected affected 
Azenor like a calamity. Late in the after 
noon, when he could stand the trouble and 
bewilderment of it no longer, he went and 
leaned over Pere Antoine s fence. The 
priest was picking the slugs from his roses 
on the other side. 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 187 

"That young girl from the Bon-Dieu," 
said Azenor " she was not at mass to-day. 
I suppose her grandmother has forgotten 
your warning." 

" No," answered the priest. " The child 
is ill, I hear. Butrand tells me she has been 
ill for several days from overwork in the 
fields. I shall go out to-morrow to see about 
her. I would go to-day, if I could." 

" The child is ill," was all Azenor heard 
or understood of Pere Antoine s words. He 
turned and walked resolutely away, like one 
who determines suddenly upon action after 
meaningless hesitation. 

He walked towards his home and past it, 
as if it were a spot that did not concern 
him. He went on down the lane and into 
the wood where he had seen Lalie disappear 
that day. , 

Here all was shadow, for the sun had 
dipped too low in the west to send a single 
ray through the dense foliage of the forest. 

Now that he found himself on the way 
to Lalie s home, he strove to understand 
why he had not gone there before. He 
often visited other girls in the village and 
neighborhood, why not have gone to her, 
as well ? The answer lay too deep in his 



188 LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 

heart for him to be more than half-con 
scious of it. Fear had kept him, dread 
to see her desolate life face to face. He 
did not know how he could bear it. 

But now he was going to her at last. 
She was ill. He would stand upon that 
dismantled porch that he could just remem 
ber. Doubtless Ma ame Zidore would come 
out to know his will, and he would tell her 
that Pre Antoine had sent to inquire how 
Mamzelle Lalie was. No ! Why drag in 
Pere Antoine ? He would simply stand 
boldly and say, " Ma ame Zidore, I learn 
that Lalie is ill. I have come to know if 
it is true, and to see her, if I may." 

When Azenor reached the cabin where 
Lalie dwelt, all sign of day had vanished. 
Dusk had fallen swiftly after the sunset. 
The moss that hung heavy from great live- 
oak branches was making fantastic silhou 
ettes against the eastern sky that the big, 
round moon was beginning to light. Off in 
the swamp beyond the bayou, hundreds of 
dismal voices were droning a lullaby. Upon 
the hovel itself, a stillness like death rested. 

Oftener than once Azenor tapped upon 
the door, which was closed as well as it 
could be, without obtaining a reply. He 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 189 

finally approached one of the small un- 
glazed windows, in which coarse mosquito- 
netting had been fastened, and looked into 
the room. 

By the moonlight slanting in he could see 
Lalie stretched upon a bed ; but of Ma ame 
Zidore there was no sign. " Lalie ! " he 
called softly. " Lalie ! " 

TJlie girl slightly moved her head upon 
the pillow. Then he boldly opened the 
door and entered. 

Upon a wretched bed, over which was 
spread a cover of patched calico, Lalie lay, 
her frail body only half concealed by the 
single garment that was upon it. One 
hand was plunged beneath her pillow ; the 
other, which was free, he touched. It was 
as hot as flame ; so was her head. He 
knelt sobbing upon the floor beside her, 
and called her his love and his soul. He 
begged her to speak a word to him, to 
look at him. But she only muttered dis- 
jointedly that the cotton was all turning to 
ashes in the fields, and the blades of the 
corn were in flames. 

If he was choked with love and grief to 
see her so, he was moved by anger as well ; 
rage against himself, against Pere Antoine, 



190 LOVE ON THE SON-DIE U. 

against the people upon the plantation and 
in the village, who had so abandoned a 
helpless creature to misery and maybe 
death. Because she had been silent had 
not lifted her voice in complaint they be 
lieved she suffered no more than she could 
bear. 

But surely the people could not be utterly 
without heart. There must be one some 
where with the spirit of Christ. Pere An- 
toine would tell him of such a one, and he 
would carry Lalie to her, out of this at 
mosphere of death. He was in haste to be 
gone with her. He fancied every moment 
of delay was a fresh danger threatening her 
life. 

He folded the rude bed-cover over Lalie s 
naked limbs, and lifted her in his arms. 
She made no resistance. She seemed only 
loath to withdraw her hand from beneath 
the pillow. When she did, he saw that she 
held lightly but firmly clasped in her en 
circling fingers the pretty Easter-egg he had 
given her ! He uttered a low cry of exulta 
tion as the full significance of this came 
over him. If she had hung for hours upon 
his neck telling him that she loved him, he 
could not have known it more surely than 



LOVE ON THE BON-DIEU. 19J 

by this sign. Azenor felt as if some mys 
terious bond had all at once drawn them 
heart to heart and made them one. 

No need now to go from door to door 
begging admittance for her. She was his. 
She belonged to him. He knew now where 
her place was, whose roof must shelter her, 
and whose arms protect her. 

So Azenor, with his loved one in his 
arms, walked through the forest, sure 
footed as a panther. Once, as he walked, 
he could hear in the distance the weird 
chant which Ma ame Zidore was crooning 
to the moon, maybe as she gathered her 
wood. 

Once, where the water was trickling cool 
through rocks, he stopped to lave Lalie s 
hot cheeks and hands and forehead. He 
had not once touched his lips to her. But 
now, when a sudden great fear came upon 
him because she did not know him, instinct 
ively he pressed his lips upon hers that 
were parched and burning. He held them 
there till hers were soft and pliant from 
the healthy moisture of his own. 

Then she knew him. She did not tell 
him so, but her stiffened fingers relaxed 
their tense hold upon the Easter bauble. 



192 LOVE ON THE EON-DIE U. 

It fell to the ground as she twined her arm 
around his neck ; and he understood. 

" Stay close by her, Tranquiline," said 
Azenor, when he had laid Lalie upon his 
own couch at home. " I m goin for the 
doctor en for Pere Antoine. Not because 
she is goin to die," he added hastily, seeing 
the awe that crept into the woman s face 
at mention of the priest. " She is goin to 
live ! Do you think I would let my wife 
die, Tranquiline ? " 



LOKA. 

SHE was a half-breed Indian girl, with 
hardly a rag to her back. To the ladies of 
the Band of United Endeavor who ques 
tioned her, she said her name was Loka, and 
she did not know where she belonged, unless 
it was on Bayou Choctaw. 

She had appeared one day at the side 
door of Frobissaint s "oyster saloon" in 
Natchitoches, asking for food. Frobissaint, 
a practical philanthropist, engaged her on 
the spot as tumbler-washer. 

She was not successful at that ; she broke 
too many tumblers. But, as Frobissaint 
charged her with the broken glasses, he did 
not mind, until she began to break them over 
the heads of his customers. Then he seized 
her by the wrist and dragged her before the 
Band of United Endeavor, then in session 
around the corner. This was considerate on 
Frobissaint s part, for he could have dragged 
her just as well to the police station. 

Loka was not beautiful, as she stood in 



194 LOKA. 

her red calico rags before the scrutinizing 
band. Her coarse, black, unkempt hair 
framed a broad, swarthy face without a re 
deeming feature, except eyes that were not 
bad; slow in their movements, but frank 
eyes enough. She was big -boned and 
clumsy. 

She did not know how old she was. The 
minister s wife reckoned she might be six 
teen. The judge s wife thought that it made 
no difference. The doctor s wife suggested 
that the girl have a bath and change before 
she be handled, even in discussion. The 
motion was not seconded. Loka s ultimate 
disposal was an urgent and difficult con 
sideration. 

Some one mentioned a reformatory. 
Every one else objected. 

Madame Laballiere, the planter s wife, 
knew a respectable family of Cadians living 
some miles below, who, she thought, would 
give the girl a home, with benefit to all con 
cerned. The Cadian woman was a deserving 
one, with a large family of small children, 
who had all her own work to do. The hus 
band cropped in a modest way. Loka would 
not only be taught to work at the Padues , 
but would receive a good moral training 
beside. 



LOKA. 195 

That settled it. Every one agreed with 
the planter s wife that it was a chance in a 
thousand ; and Loka was sent to sit on the 
steps outside, while the band proceeded to 
the business next in order. 

Loka was afraid of treading upon the lit 
tle Padues when she first got amongst them, 
there were so many of them, and her 
feet were like leaden weights, encased in the 
strong brogans with which the band had 
equipped her. * 

Madame Padue, a small, black-eyed, ag 
gressive woman, questioned her in a sharp, 
direct fashion peculiar to herself. 

"How come you don t talk French, you?" 
Loka shrugged her shoulders. 

" I kin talk English good s anybody ; an 
lit bit Choctaw, too," she offered, apologeti 
cally. 

" Ma foi, you kin fo git yo Choctaw. 
Soona the betta for me. Now if you wil- 
lin , an ent too lazy an sassy, we 11 git long 
somehow. Vrai sauvage qa," she muttered 
tinder her breath, as she turned to initiate 
Loka into some of her new duties. 

She herself was a worker. A good deal 
more fussy one than her easy-going husband 
and children thought necessary or agreeable. 



196 LOKA. 

Loka s slow ways and heavy motions aggra 
vated her. It was in vain Monsieur Padue 
expostulated : 

" She s on y a chile, rememba, Tontine." 

" She s vrai sauvage, that s w at. It s 
got to be work out of her," was Tontine s 
only reply to such remonstrance. 

The girl was indeed so deliberate about 
her tasks that she had to be urged constantly 
to accomplish the amount of labor that Ton 
tine required of her. Moreover, she carried 
to her work a stolid indifference that was 
exasperating. Whether at the wash-tub, 
scrubbing the floors, weeding the garden, or 
learning her lessons and catechism with the 
children on Sundays, it was the same. 

It was only when intrusted with the care 
of little Bibine, the baby, that Loka crept 
somewhat out of her apathy. She grew very 
fond of him. No wonder ; such a baby as 
he was ! So good, so fat, and complaisant ! 
He had such a way of clasping Loka s broad 
face between his pudgy fists and savagely 
biting her chin with his hard, toothless 
gums ! Such a way of bouncing in her arms 
as if he were mounted upon springs ! At 
his antics the girl would laugh a wholesome, 
ringing laugh that was good to hear. 



LOKA. 197 

She was left alone to watch and nurse him 
one day. An accommodating neighbor who 
had become the possessor of a fine new spring- 
wagon passed by just after the noon-hour 
meal, and offered to take the whole family 
on a jaunt to town. The offer was all the 
more tempting as Tontine had some long- 
delayed shopping to do ; and the opportu 
nity to equip the children with shoes and 
summer hats could not be slighted. So 
away they all went. All but Bibine, who 
was left swinging in his branle with only 
Loka for company. 

This branle consisted of a strong circular 
piece of cotton cloth, securely but slackly 
fastened to a large, stout hoop suspended by 
three light cords to a hook in a rafter of 
the gallery. The baby who has not swung 
in a branle does not know the quintessence 
of baby luxury. In each of the four rooms 
of the house was a hook from which to hang 
this swing. 

Often it was taken out under the trees. 
But to-day it swung in the shade of the open 
gallery ; and Loka sat beside it, giving it 
now and then a slight impetus that sent it 
circling in slow, sleep-inspiring undulations. 

Bibine kicked and cooed as long as he 



198 LOKA. 

was able. But Loka was humming a mo 
notonous lullaby ; the branle was swaying to 
and fro, the warm air fanning him deli- 
ciously ; and Bibine was soon fast asleep. 

Seeing this, Loka quietly let down the 
mosquito net, to protect the child s slumber 
from the intrusion of the many insects that 
were swarming in the summer air. 

Singularly enough, there was no work 
for her to do ; and Tontine, in her hurried 
departure, had failed to provide for the 
emergency. The washing and ironing were 
over ; the floors had been scrubbed, and the 
rooms righted; the yard swept; the chick 
ens fed ; vegetables picked and washed. 
There was absolutely nothing to do, and 
Loka gave herself up to the dreams of idle 
ness. 

As she sat comfortably back in the roomy 
rocker, she let her eyes sweep lazily across 
the country. Away off to the right peeped 
up, from amid densely clustered trees, the 
pointed roofs and long pipe of the steam-gin 
of Laballiere s. No other habitation was 
visible except a few low, flat dwellings far 
over the river, that could hardly be seen. 

The immense plantation took up all the 
land in sight. The few acres that Baptiste 



LOKA. 199 

Padue cultivated were his own, that Labal- 
liere, out of friendly consideration, had sold 
to him. Baptiste s fine crop of cotton and 
corn was " laid by " just now, waiting for 
rain ; and Baptiste had gone with the rest 
of the family to town. Beyond the river 
and the field and everywhere about were 
dense woods. 

Loka s gaze, that had been slowly travel 
ing along the edge of the horizon, finally 
fastened upon the woods, and stayed there. 
Into her eyes came the absent look of one 
whose thought is projected into the future 
or the past, leaving the present blank. She 
was seeing a vision. It had come with a 
whiff that the strong south breeze had blown 
to her from the woods. 

She was seeing old Marot, the squaw who 
drank whiskey and plaited baskets and beat 
her. There was something, after all, in being 
beaten, if only to scream out and fight back, 
as at that time in Natchitoches, when she 
broke a glass on the head of a man who 
laughed at her and pulled her hair, and 
called her " fool names." 

Old Marot wanted her to steal and cheat, 
to beg and lie, when they went out with the 
baskets to sell. Loka did not want to. She 



200 LOKA. 

did not like to. That was why she had run 
away and because she was beaten. But 
but ah ! the scent of the sassafras leaves 
hanging to dry in the shade ! The pungent 
camomile ! The sound of the bayou tum 
bling over that old slimy log ! Only to lie 
there for hours and watch the glistening 
lizards glide in and out was worth a beating. 

She knew the birds must be singing in 
chorus out there in the woods where the 
gray moss was hanging, and the trumpet- 
vine trailing from the trees, spangled with 
blossoms. In spirit she heard the song 
sters. 

She wondered if Choctaw Joe and Sam- 
bite played dice every night by the camp- 
fire, as they used to do ; and if they still 
fought and slashed each other when wild 
with drink. How good it felt to walk with 
moccasined feet over the springy turf, under 
the trees ! What fun to trap the squirrels, 
to skin the otter ; to take those swift flights 
on the pony that Choctaw Joe had stolen 
from the Texans ! 

Loka sat motionless ; only her breast 
heaved tumultuously. Her heart was aching 
with savage homesickness. She could not 
feel just then that the sin and pain of that 



LOKA. 201 

life were anything beside the joy of its free 
dom. 

Loka was sick for the woods. She felt 
she must die if she could not get back to 
them, and to her vagabond life. Was there 
anything to hinder her? She stooped and 
unlaced the brogans that were chafing her 
feet, removed them and her stockings, and 
threw the things away from her. She stood 
up all a-quiver, panting, ready for flight. 

But there was a sound that stopped her. 
It was little Bibine, cooing, sputtering, bat 
tling hands and feet with the mosquito net 
that he had dragged over his face. The girl 
uttered a sob as she reached down for the 
baby she had grown to love so, and clasped 
him in her arms. She could not go and 
leave Bibine behind. 

Tontine began to grumble at once when 
she discovered that Loka was not at hand to 
receive them on their return. 

"Bon / " she exclaimed. " Now w ere is 
that Loka ? Ah, that girl, she aggravates 
me too much. Firs thing she knows I m 
goin sen her straight back to them ban of 
lady w ere she come frum." 

"Loka! " she called, in short, sharp tones, 



202 LOKA. 

as she traversed the house and peered into 
each room. " Lo ka ! " She cried loudly 
enough to be heard half a mile away when 
she got out upon the back gallery. Again 
and again she called. 

Baptiste was exchanging the discomfort 
of his Sunday coat for the accustomed ease 
of shirt sleeves. 

"Mais don t git so excite, Tontine," he 
implored. " I m sho she s yonda to the crib 
shellin co n, or some w ere like that." 

" Run, Francois, you, an see to the crib," 
the mother commanded. " Bibine mus be 
starve ! Run to the hen-house an look, Juli 
ette. Maybe she s fall asleep in some corna. 
That 11 learn me notha time to go trus 
une pareille saitvage with my baby, vaf" 

When it was discovered that Loka was 
nowhere in the immediate vicinity, Tontine 
was furious. 

"Pas possible she s walk to Laballiere, 
with Bibine ! " she exclaimed. 

"I 11 saddle the hoss an go see, Tontine," 
interposed Baptiste, who was beginning to 
share his wife s uneasiness. 

" Go, go, Baptiste," she urged. " An you, 
boys, run yonda down the road to ole Aunt 
Judy s cabin an see," 



LOKA. 203 

It was found that Loka had not been seen 
at Laballiere s, nor at Aunt Judy s cabin ; 
that she had not taken the boat, that was 
still fastened to its moorings down the bank. 
Then Tontine s excitement left her. She 
turned pale and sat quietly down in her 
room, with an unnatural calm that fright 
ened the children. 

Some of them began to cry. Baptiste 
walked restlessly about, anxiously scanning 
the country in all directions. A wretched 
hour dragged by. The sun had set, leaving 
hardly an afterglow, and in a little while 
the twilight that falls so swiftly would be 
there. 

Baptiste was preparing to mount his horse, 
to start out again on the round he had al 
ready been over. Tontine sat in the same 
state of intense abstraction when Fra^ois, 
who had perched himself among the lofty 
branches of a chinaberry-tree, called out : 
" Ent that Loka way yon a, jis come out 
de wood? climbin de fence down by de 
melon patch ? " 

It was difficult to distinguish in the gath 
ering dusk if the figure were that of man or 
beast. But the family was not left long in 
suspense. Baptiste sped his horse away in 



204 LOKA. 

the direction indicated by Francis, and in 
a little while he was galloping back with 
Bibine in his arms ; as fretful, sleepy and 
hungry a baby as ever was. 

Loka came trudging on behind Baptiste. 
He did not wait for explanations ; he was 
too eager to place the child in the arms of 
its mother. The suspense over, Tontine 
began to cry; that followed naturally, of 
course. Through her tears she managed to 
address Loka, who stood all tattered and 
disheveled in the doorway : " Were you 
been? Tell me that." 

" Bibine an me," answered Loka, slowly 
and awkwardly, " we was lonesome we 
been take lit broad in de wood." 

" You did n know no betta an to take 
way Bibine like that? Wat Ma ame La- 
balliere mean, anyhow, to sen me such a 
objec like you, I want to know ? " 

" You go n sen me way ? " asked Loka, 
passing her hand in a hopeless fashion over 
her frowzy hair. 

" Par exemple ! straight you march back 
to that ban w ere you come from. To give 
me such a fright like that ! JP&S possible" 

" Go slow, Tontine ; go slow," interposed 
Baptiste. 



LOKA. 205 

" Don sen me way frum Bibine," en 
treated the girl, with a note in her voice 
like a lament. 

" To-day," she went on, in her dragging 
manner, " I want to run way bad, an take 
to de wood ; an go yonda back to Bayou 
Choctaw to steal an lie agin. It s on y 
Bibine w at hole me back. I could n lef 
im. I could n do dat. An we jis go take 
lit broad in de wood, das all, him an me. 
Don sen me way like dat ! " 

Baptiste led the girl gently away to the 
far end of the gallery, and spoke soothingly 
to her. He told her to be good and brave, 
and he would right the trouble for her. He 
left her standing there and went back to his 
wife. 

" Tontine," he began, with unusual energy, 
" you got to listen to the truth once fo 
all." He had evidently determined to profit 
by his wife s lachrymose and wilted condition 
to assert his authority. 

" I want to say who s masta in this house 
it s me," he went on. Tontine did not 
protest ; only clasped the baby a little closer, 
which encouraged him to proceed. 

" You been grind that girl too much. She 
ent a bad girl I been watch her close, 



206 LOKA. 

count of the chil ren ; she ent bad. All 
she want, it s li le mo rope. You can t 
drive a ox with the same gearin you drive 
a mule. You got to learn that, Tontine." 

He approached his wife s chair and stood 
beside her. 

" That girl, she done tole us how she was 
temp to-day to turn canaille like we all 
temp sometime . Wat was it save her? 
That li le chile w at you hole in yo arm. 
An now you want to take her guarjun angel 
way f om her? Non, non, mafemme" he 
said, resting his hand gently upon his wife s 
head. " We got to rememba she ent like 
you an me, po thing; she s one Injun, 
her." 



BOULOT AND BOULOTTE. 

WHEN Boulot and Boulotte, the little 
piny-wood twins, had reached the dignified 
age of twelve, it was decided in family coun 
cil that the time had come for them to put 
their little naked feet into shoes. They were 
two brown-skinned, black-eyed Cadian roly- 
polies, who lived with father and mother 
and a troop of brothers and sisters halfway 
up the hill, in a neat log cabin that had a 
substantial mud chimney at one end. They 
could well afford shoes now, for they had 
saved many a picayune through their indus 
try of selling wild grapes, blackberries, and 
socoes " to ladies in the village who " put 
up " such things. 

Boulot and Boulotte were to buy the shoes 
themselves, and they selected a Saturday 
afternoon for the important transaction, for 
that is the great shopping time in Natchi- 
toches Parish. So upon a bright Saturday 
afternoon Boulot and Boulotte, hand in hand, 
with their quarters, their dimes, and their 



208 BOULOT AND BOULOTTE 

picayunes tied carefully in a Sunday hand 
kerchief, descended the hill, and disappeared 
from the gaze of the eager group that had 
assembled to see them go. 

Long before it was time for their return, 
this same small band, with ten year old Ser- 
aphine at their head, holding a tiny Seraphin 
in her arms, had stationed themselves in a 
row before the cabin at a convenient point 
from which to make quick and careful obser 
vation. 

Even before the two could be caught sight 
of, their chattering voices were heard down 
by the spring, where they had doubtless 
stopped to drink. The voices grew more 
and more audible. Then, through the 
branches of the young pines, Boulotte s blue 
sun-bonnet appeared, and Boulot s straw hat. 
Finally the twins, hand in hand, stepped 
into the clearing in full view. 

Consternation seized the band. 

" You bof crazy done, Boulot an Bou- 
lotte," screamed Seraphine. "You go buy 
shoes, an come home barefeet like you was 
go!" 

Boulot flushed crimson. He silently hung 
his head, and looked sheepishly down at his 
bare feet, then at the fine stout brogans that 



BOULOT AND BOULOTTE. 209 

he carried in his hand. He had not thought 
of it. 

Boulotte also carried shoes, but of the 
glossiest, with the highest of heels and 
brightest of buttons. But she was not one 
to be disconcerted or to look sheepish ; far 
from it. 

" You spec Boulot an me we got money 
fur was e us ? " she retorted, with wither 
ing condescension. " You think we go buy 
shoes fur ruin it in de dus ? Comment ! " 

And they all walked into the house crest 
fallen ; all but Boulotte, who was mistress 
of the situation, and Seraphin, who did not 
care one way or the other. 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

" AN now, young man, w at you want to 
remember is this an take it f er yo motto : 
No monkey-shines with Uncle Sam. You 
undastan ? You aware now o the penalties 
attached to monkey-shinin with Uncle Sam. 
I reckon that s bout all I got to say ; so 
you be on han promp to-morrow mornin 
at seven o clock, to take charge o the United 
States mail-bag." 

This formed the close of a very pompous 
address delivered by the postmaster of Clou- 
tierville to young Armand Verchette, who 
had been appointed to carry the mails from 
the village to the railway station three miles 
away. 

Armand or Chouchoute, as every one 
chose to call him, following the habit of the 
Creoles in giving nicknames had heard 
the man a little impatiently. 

Not so the negro boy who accompanied 
him. The child had listened with the deep 
est respect and awe to every word of the 
rambling admonition. 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 211 

" How much you gwine git, Marse Chou- 
choute? " he asked, as they walked down the 
village street together, the black boy a little 
behind. He was very black, and slightly 
deformed ; a small boy, scarcely reaching to 
the shoulder of his companion, whose cast- 
off garments he wore. But Chouchoute was 
tall for his sixteen years, and carried him 
self well. 

" W y, I m goin to git thirty dolla a 
month, Wash ; w at you say to that ? Betta 
an hoein cotton, ain t it?" He laughed 
with a triumphant ring in his voice. 

But Wash did not laugh ; he was too 
much impressed by the importance of this 
new function, too much bewildered by the 
vision of sudden wealth which thirty dollars 
a month meant to his understanding. 

He felt, too, deeply conscious of the great 
weight of responsibility which this new of 
fice brought with it. The imposing salary 
had confirmed the impression left by the 
postmaster s words. 

" You gwine git all dat money ? Sakes ! 
W at you reckon Ma ame Verchette say ? I 
know she gwine mos take a fit w en she heah 
dat." 

But Chouchoute s mother did not " mos 



212 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

take a fit " when she heard of her son s good 
fortune. The white and wasted hand which 
she rested upon the boy s black curls trem 
bled a little, it is true, and tears of emotion 
came into her tired eyes. This step seemed 
to her the beginning of better things for her 
fatherless boy. 

They lived quite at the end of this little 
French village, which was simply two long 
rows of very old frame houses, facing each 
other closely across a dusty roadway. 

Their home was a cottage, so small and 
so humble that it just escaped the reproach 
of being a cabin. 

Every one was kind to Madame Verchette. 
Neighbors ran in of mornings to help her 
with her work she could do so little for 
herself. And often the good priest, Pere 
Antoine, came to sit with her and talk inno 
cent gossip. 

To say that Wash was fond of Madame 
Verchette and her son is to be poor in lan 
guage to express devotion. He worshiped 
her as if she were already an angel in Para 
dise. 

Chouchoute was a delightful young fel 
low; no one could help .loving him. His 
heart was as warm and cheery as his own 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 213 

southern sunbeams. If he was born with 
an unlucky trick of f orgetf ulness or bet 
ter, thoughtlessness no one ever felt much 
like blaming him for it, so much did it seem 
a part of his happy, careless nature. And 
why was that faithful watch-dog, Wash, al 
ways at Marse Chouchoute s heels, if it were 
not to be hands and ears and eyes to him, 
more than half the time ? 

One beautiful spring night, Chouchoute, 
on his way to the station, was riding along 
the road that skirted the river. The clumsy 
mail-bag that lay before him across the pony 
was almost empty ; for the Cloutierville mail 
was a meagre and unimportant one at best. 

But he did not know this. He was not 
thinking of the mail, in fact ; he was only 
feeling that life was very agreeable this de 
licious spring night. 

There were cabins at intervals upon the 
road most of them darkened, for the hour 
was late. As he approached one of these, 
which was more pretentious than the others, 
he heard the sound of a fiddle, and saw lights 
through the openings of the house. 

It was so far from the road that when he 
stopped his horse and peered through the 
darkness he could not recognize the dancers 



214 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

who passed before the open doors and win 
dows. But he knew this was Gros-Leon s 
ball, which he had heard the boys talking 
about all the week. 

Why should he not go and stand in the 
doorway an instant and exchange a word 
with the dancers ? 

Chouchoute dismounted, fastened his horse 
to the fence-post, and proceeded towards the 
house. 

The room, crowded with people young and 
old, was long and low, with rough beams 
across the ceiling, blackened by smoke and 
time. Upon the high mantelpiece a single 
coal-oil lamp burned, and none too brightly. 

In a far corner, upon a platform of boards 
laid across two flour barrels, sat Uncle Ben, 
playing upon a squeaky fiddle, and shouting 
the " figures." 

" Ah ! v la Chouchoute ! " some one called. 

"Eh! Chouchoute!" 

"Jus in time, Chouchoute; yere s Miss 
Leontine waitin fer a partna." 

" S lute yo partnas!" Uncle Ben was 
thundering forth ; and Chouchoute, with one 
hand gracefully behind him, made a pro 
found bow to Miss Leontine, as he offered 
her the other. 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 215 

Now Chouchoute was noted far and wide 
for his skill as a dancer. The moment he 
stood upon the floor, a fresh spirit seemed 
to enter into all present. It was with re 
newed vigor that Uncle Ben intoned his 
" Balancy all ! Fus f o f o ard an back I " 

The spectators drew close about the cou 
ples to watch Chouchoute s wonderful per 
formance ; his pointing of toes ; his pigeon- 
wings in which his feet seemed hardly to 
touch the floor. 

" It take Chouchoute to show em de step, 
va ! " proclaimed Gros-Leon, with a fat sat 
isfaction, to the audience at large. 

" Look inij! look im yonda ! Ole Ben 
got to work hard an dat, if he want to 
keep up wid Chouchoute, I tell you ! " 

So it was ; encouragement and adulation 
on all sides, till, from the praise that was 
showered on him, Chouchoute s head was 
soon as light as his feet. 

At the windows appeared the dusky faces 
of negroes, their bright eyes gleaming as 
they viewed the scene within and mingled 
their loud guffaws with the medley of sound 
that was already deafening. 

The time was speeding. The air was 
heavy in the room, but no one seemed to 



216 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

mind this. Uncle Ben was calling the fig 
ures now with a rhythmic sing-song : 

" Right an lef all roun ! Swing co - 
nas ! " 

Chouchoute turned with a smile to Miss 
Felicie on his left, his hand extended, when 
what should break upon his ear but the 
long, harrowing wail of a locomotive ! 

Before the sound ceased he had vanished 
from the room. Miss Felicie stood as he 
left her, with hand uplifted, rooted to the 
spot with astonishment. 

It was the train whistling ,for his station, 
and he a mile and more away ! He knew 
he was too late, and that he could not make 
the distance ; but the sound had been a rude 
reminder that he was not at his post of 
duty. 

However, he would do what he could now. 
He ran swiftly to the outer road, and to the 
spot where he had left his pony. 

The horse was gone, and with it the United 
States mail-bag ! 

For an instant Chouchoute stood half- 
stunned with terror. Then, in one quick 
flash, came to his mind a vision of possibil 
ities that sickened him. Disgrace overtak 
ing him in this position of trust; poverty 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 217 

his portion again; and his dear mother 
forced to share both with him. 

He turned desperately to some negroes 
who had followed him, seeing his wild rush 
from the house : 

" Who saw my hoss ? Wat you all did 
with my hoss, say ? " 

" Who you reckon tech yo hoss, boy ? " 
grumbled Gustave, a sullen-looking mulatto. 
" You did n have no call to lef im in de 
road, fus place." 

" Pear to me like I heahed a hoss a-lopin 
down de road jis now ; did n you, Uncle 
Jake ? " ventured a second. 

" Neva heahed nuttin nuttin t all, 
cep dat big-mouf Ben yon da makin mo 
fuss an a t unda-sto m." 

" Boys ! " cried Chouchoute, excitedly, 
" bring me a hoss, quick, one of you. I m 
boun to have one ! I m boun to ! I 11 give 
two.dolla to the firs man brings me a hoss." 

Near at hand, in the " lot " that adjoined 
Uncle Jake s cabin, was his little Creole 
pony, nibbling the cool, wet grass that he 
found, along the edges and in the corners of 
the fence. 

The negro led the pony forth. With no 
further word, and with one bound, Chou- 



218 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

choute was upon the animal s back. He 
wanted neither saddle nor bridle, for there 
were few horses in the neighborhood that 
had not been trained to be guided by the 
simple motions of a rider s body. 

Once mounted, he threw himself forward 
with a certain violent impulse, leaning till 
his cheek touched the animal s mane. 

He uttered a sharp " Hei ! " and at once, 
as if possessed by sudden frenzy, the horse 
dashed forward, leaving the bewildered black 
men in a cloud of dust. 

What a mad ride it was ! On one side 
was the river bank, steep in places and 
crumbling away ; on the other, an unbro 
ken line of fencing; now in straight lines 
of neat planking, now treacherous barbed 
wire, sometimes the zigzag rail. 

The night was black, with only such faint 
light as the stars were shedding. No sound 
was to be heard save the quick thud of the 
horse s hoofs upon the hard dirt road, the 
animal s heavy breathing, and the boy s 
feverish " hei-hei ! " when he fancied the 
speed slackened. 

Occasionally a marauding dog started 
from the obscurity to bark and give useless 
chase. 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 219 

" To the road, to the road, Bon-a-rien ! " 
panted Chouchoute, for the horse in his wild 
race had approached so closely to the river s 
edge that the bank crumbled beneath his 
flying feet. It was only by a desperate 
lunge and bound that he saved himself and 
rider from plunging into the water below. 

Chouchoute hardly knew what he was 
pursuing so madly. It was rather something 
that drove him ; fear, hope, desperation. 

He was rushing to the station, because it 
seemed to him, naturally, the first thing to 
do. There was the faint hope that his own 
horse had broken rein and gone there of his 
own accord ; but such hope was almost lost 
in a wretched conviction that had seized 
him the instant he saw " Gustave the thief " 
among the men gathered at Gros-Leon s. 

t; Hei ! hei, Bon-a-rien ! " 

The lights of the railway station were 
gleaming ahead, and Chouchoute s hot ride 
was almost at an end. 

With sudden and strange perversity of 
purpose, Chouchoute, as he drew closer upon 
the station, slackened his horse s speed. A 
low fence was in his way. Not long before, 
he would have cleared it at a bound, for 
Bon-a-rien could do such things. Now 



220 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

he cantered easily to the end of it, to go 
through the gate which was there. 

His courage was growing faint, and his 
heart sinking within him as he drew nearer 
and nearer. 

He dismounted, and holding the pony by 
the mane, approached with some trepidation 
the young station-master, who was taking 
note of some freight that had been deposited 
near the tracks. 

" Mr. Hudson," faltered Chouchoute, " did 
you see my pony roun yere anywhere ? an 
an the mail-sack ? " 

" Your pony s safe in the woods, Chou te. 
The mail - bag s on its way to New Or 
leans "- 

" Thank God ! " breathed the boy. 

" But that poor little fool darkey of yours 
has about done it for himself, I guess." 

" Wash ? Oh, Mr. Hudson ! w at s - 
w at s happen to Wash?" 

" He s inside there, on my mattress. He s 
hurt, and he s hurt bad ; that s what s the 
matter. You see the ten forty-five had come 
in, and she did n t make much of a stop ; she 
was just pushing out, when bless me if that 
little chap of yours didn t conie tearing 
along on Spunky as if Old Harry was be 
hind him. 



FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 221 

" You know how No. 22 can pull at the 
start ; and there was that little imp keeping 
abreast of her most under the thing s wheels. 

" I shouted at him. I could n t make out 
what he was up to, when blamed if he 
did n t pitch the mail-bag clean into the car ! 
Buffalo Bill couldn t have done it neater. 

" Then Spunky, she shied ; and Wash he 
bounced against the side of that car and 
back, like a rubber ball, and laid in the 
ditch till we carried him inside. 

" I ve wired down the road for Doctor 
Campbell to come up on 14 and do what he 
can for him." 

Hudson had related these events to the 
distracted boy while they made their way 
toward the house. 

Inside, upon a low pallet, lay the little 
negro, breathing heavily, his black face 
pinched and ashen with approaching death. 
He had wanted no one to touch him further 
than to lay him upon the bed. 

The few men and colored women gathered 
in the room were looking upon him with pity 
mingled with curiosity. 

When he saw Chouchoute he closed his 
eyes, and a shiver passed through his small 
frame. Those about him thought he was 



222 FOR MARSE CHOUCHOUTE. 

dead. Chouchoute knelt, choking, at his 
side and held his hand. 

"O Wash, Wash! W at you did that 
for ? W at made you, Wash ? " 

" Marse Chouchoute," the boy whispered, 
so low that no one could hear him but his 
friend, " I was gwine long de big road, pas 
Marse Gros-Leon s, an I seed Spunky tied 
dah wid de mail. Dar warn t a minute 
I clar , Marse Chouchoute, dar warn t a 
minute to fotch you. W at makes my 
head tu n roun dat away ? " 

" Neva mine, Wash ; keep still ; don t 
you try to talk," entreated Chouchoute. 

" You ain t mad, Marse Chouchoute ? " . 

The lad could only answer with a hand 
pressure. 

" Dar warn t a minute, so I gits top o 
Spunky I neva seed nuttin cl ar de road 
like dat. I come long side de train an 
fling de sack. I seed im kotch it, and I 
don know nuttin mo cep mis ry, tell I 
see you a-comin frough de do . Mebby 
Ma ame Armand know some pin," he mur 
mured faintly, " w at gwine make my 
head quit tu nin round dat away. I boun 
to git well, ca se who gwine watch 
Marse Chouchoute ? " 



A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 

EVERY one who came up from Avoyelles 
had the same story to tell of Mentine. Cher 
Mabtre ! but she was changed. And there 
were babies, more than she could well man 
age ; as good as four already. Jules was not 
kind except to himself. They seldom went 
to church, and never anywhere upon a visit. 
They lived as poorly as pine-woods people. 
Doudouce had heard the story often, the 
last time no later than that morning. 

" Ho-a ! " he shouted to his mule plumb 
in the middle of the cotton row. He had 
staggered along behind the plow since early 
morning, and of a sudden he felt he had 
had enough of it. He mounted the mule 
and rode away to the stable, leaving the 
plow with its polished blade thrust deep in 
the red Cane River soil. His head felt like 
a windmill with the recollections and sudden 
intentions that had crowded it and were 
whirling through his brain since he had 
heard the last story about Mentine, 



224 A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 

He knew well enough Mentine would have 
married him seven years ago had not Jules 
Trodon come up from Avoyelles and capti 
vated her with his handsome eyes and pleas 
ant speech. Doudouce was resigned then, 
for he held Mentine s happiness above his 
own. But now she was suffering in a hope 
less, common, exasperating way for the 
small comforts of life. People had told 
him so. And somehow, to-day, he could 
not stand the knowledge passively. He 
felt he must see those things they spoke of 
with his own eyes. He must strive to help 
her and her children if it were possible. 

Doudouce could not sleep that night. He 
lay with wakeful eyes watching the moon 
light creep across the bare floor of his room ; 
listening to sounds that seemed unfamiliar 
and weird down among the rushes along the 
bayou. But towards morning he saw Men- 
tine as he had seen her last in her white 
wedding gown and veil. She looked at him 
with appealing eyes and held out her arms 
for protection, for rescue, it seemed to 
him. That dream determined him. The fol 
lowing day Doudouce started for Avoyelles. 

Jules Trodon s home lay a mile or two 
from Marks ville. It consisted of three rooms 



A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 225 

strung in a row and opening upon a narrow 
gallery. The whole wore an aspect of pov 
erty and dilapidation that summer day, to 
wards noon, when Doudouce approached it. 
His presence outside the gate aroused the 
frantic barking of dogs that dashed down 
the steps as if to attack him. Two little 
brown barefooted children, a boy and girl, 
stood upon the gallery staring stupidly at 
him. " Call off you dogs," he requested ; 
but they only continued to stare. 

" Down, Pluto ! down, Achille ! " cried the 
shrill voice of a woman who emerged from 
the house, holding upon her arm a delicate 
baby of a year or two. There was only an 
instant of unrecognition. 

" Mais Doudouce, that ent you, comment ! 
Well, if any one would tole me this mornin ! 
Git a chair, Tit Jules. That s Mista Dou 
douce, f om way yonda Natchitoches w ere 
yo maman use to live. Mais, you ent 
change ; you lookin well, Doudouce." 

He shook hands in a slow, undemonstra 
tive way, and seated himself clumsily upon 
the hide-bottomed chair, laying his broad- 
rimmed felt hat upon the floor beside him. 
He was very uncomfortable in the cloth 
Sunday coat which he wore. 



226 A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 

44 1 had business that call me to Marks- 
ville," he began, " an I say to myse f, 
4 Tiens, you can t pass by without tell em 
all howdy. " 

"Par exemplef w at Jules would said 
to that ! Mais, you lookin well ; you ent 
change , Doudouce." 

44 An you lookin well, Mentine, Jis the 
same Mentine." He regretted that he lacked 
talent to make the lie bolder. 

She moved a little uneasily, and felt upon 
her shoulder for a pin with which to fasten 
the front of her old gown where it lacked a 
button. She had kept the baby in her lap. 
Doudouce was wondering miserably if he 
would have known her outside her home. 
He would have known her sweet, cheerful 
brown eyes, that were not changed ; but her 
figure, that had looked so trim in the wed 
ding gown, was sadly misshapen. She was 
brown, with skin like parchment, and pite- 
ously thin. There were lines, some deep as 
if old age had cut them, about the eyes and 
mouth. 

44 An how you lef em all, yonda ? " she 
asked, in a high voice that had grown shrill 
from screaming at children and dogs. 

44 They all well. It s mighty li le sickness 



A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 227 

in the country this yea . But they been 
lookin fo you up yonda, straight along, 
Mentine." 

" Don t talk, Doudouce, it s no chance ; 
with that po wo out piece o Ian w at Jules 
got. He say, anotha yea like that, he s goin 
sell out, him." 

The children were clutching her on either 
side, their persistent gaze always fastened 
upon Doudouce. He tried without avail to 
make friends with them. Then Jules came 
home from the field, riding the mule with 
which he had worked, and which he fas 
tened outside the gate. 

" Yere s Doudouce f om Natchitoches, 
Jules," called out Mentine, "he stop to 
tell us howdy, en passant" The husband 
mounted to the gallery and the two men 
shook hands ; Doudouce listlessly, as he 
had done with Mentine ; Jules with some 
bluster and show of cordiality. 

" Well, you a lucky man, you," he ex 
claimed with his swagger air, " able to broad 
like that, encore ! You could n t do that if 
you had half a dozen mouth to feed, allez f " 

" Non, j te garantis!" agreed Mentine, 
with a loud laugh. Doudouce winced, as he 
had done the instant before at Jules s heart- 



228 A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 

less implication. This husband of Mentine 
surely had not changed during the seven 
years, except to grow broader, stronger, hand 
somer. But Doudouce did not tell him so. 

After the mid-day dinner of boiled salt 
pork, corn bread and molasses, there was 
nothing for Doudouce but to take his leave 
when Jules did. 

At the gate, the little boy was discovered 
in dangerous proximity to the mule s heels, 
and was properly screamed at and rebuked. 

" I reckon he likes hosses," Doudouce re 
marked. " He take afta you, Mentine. I 
got a li le pony yonda home," he said, ad 
dressing the child, " w at ent ne use to me. 
I m goin sen im down to you. He s a 
good, tough li le mustang. You jis can let 
im eat grass an feed im a han ful o co n, 
once a w ile. An he s gentle, yes. You an 
yo ma can ride im to church, Sundays. 
Hein ! you want ? " 

"Wat you say, Jules?" demanded the 
father. " W at you say? " echoed Mentine, 
who was balancing the baby across the gate. 
" Tit sauvage, va ! " 

Doudouce shook hands all around, even 
with the baby, and walked off in the oppo 
site direction to Jules, who had mounted the 



A VISIT TO AVOYELLES. 229 

mule. He was bewildered. He stumbled 
over the rough ground because of tears that 
were blinding him, and that he had held in 
check for the past hour. 

He had loved Mentine long ago, when she 
was young and attractive, and he found that 
he loved her still. He had tried to put all 
disturbing thought of her away, on that 
wedding-day, and he. supposed he had suc 
ceeded. But he loved her now as he never 
had. Because she was no longer beautiful, 
he loved her. Because the delicate bloom 
of her existence had been rudely brushed 
away ; because she was in a manner fallen ; 
because she was Mentine, he loved her; 
fiercely, as a mother loves an afflicted child. 
He would have liked to thrust that man 
aside, and gather up her and her children, 
and hold them and keep them as long as 
life lasted. 

After a moment or two Doudouce looked 
back at Mentine, standing at the gate 
with her baby. But her face was turned 
away from him. She was gazing after her 
husband, who went in the direction of the 
field. 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

IT was one afternoon in April, not long 
ago, only the other day, and the shadows 
had already begun to lengthen. 

Bertrand Delmande, a fine, bright-looking 
boy of fourteen years, fifteen, perhaps, 
was mounted, and riding along a pleasant 
country road, upon a little Creole pony, 
such as boys in Louisiana usually ride when 
they have nothing better at hand. He had 
hunted, and carried his gun before him. 

It is unpleasant to state that Bertrand 
was not so depressed as he should have 
been, in view of recent events that had come 
about. Within the past week he had been 
recalled from the college of Grand Coteau 
to his home, the Bon-Accueil plantation. 

He had found his father and his grand 
mother depressed over money matters, await 
ing certain legal developments that might 
result in his permanent withdrawal from 
school. That very day, directly after the 
early dinner, the two had driven to town, 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 231 

on this very business, to be absent till the 
late afternoon. Bertrand, then, had sad 
dled Picayune and gone for a long jaunt, 
such as his heart delighted in. 

He was returning now, and had ap 
proached the beginning of the great tan 
gled Cherokee hedge that marked the 
boundary line of Bon-Accueil, and that 
twinkled with multiple white roses. 

The pony started suddenly and violently 
at something there in the turn of the road, 
and just under the hedge. It looked like 
a bundle of rags at first. But it was a 
tramp, seated upon a broad, flat stone. 

Bertrand had no maudlin consideration 
for tramps as a species ; he had only that 
morning driven from the place one who was 
making himself unpleasant at the kitchen 
window. 

But this tramp was old and feeble. His 
beard was long, and as white as new-ginned 
cotton, and when Bertrand saw him he was 
engaged in stanching a wound in his bare 
heel with a fistful of matted grass. 

"What s wrong, old man?" asked the 
boy, kindly. 

The tramp looked up at him with a be 
wildered glance, but did not answer. 



232 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

" Well," thought Bertrand, " since it s de 
cided that I m to be a physician some day, 
I can t begin to practice too early." 

He dismounted, and examined the injured 
foot. It had an ugly gash. Bertrand acted 
mostly from impulse. Fortunately his im 
pulses were not bad ones. So, nimbly, and 
as quickly as he could manage it, he had 
the old man astride Picayune, whilst he 
himself was leading the pony down the 
narrow lane. 

The dark green hedge towered like a high 
and solid wall on one side. On the other 
was a broad, open field, where here and 
there appeared the flash and gleam of up 
lifted, polished hoes, that negroes were ply 
ing between the even rows of cotton and 
tender corn. 

" This is the State of Louisiana," uttered 
the tramp, quaveringly. 

"Yes, this is Louisiana," returned Ber 
trand cheerily. 

" Yes, I know it is. I Ve been in all of 
them since Gettysburg. Sometimes it was 
too hot, and sometimes it was too cold ; and 
with that bullet in my head you don t re 
member? No, you don t remember Gettys- 
burg." 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 233 

"Well, no, not vividly," laughed Ber- 
trand. 

" Is it a hospital ? It is n t a factory, 
is it? " the man questioned. 

" Where we re going ? Why, no, it s the 
Delmande plantation Bon-Accueil. Here 
we are. Wait, I 11 open the gate." 

This singular group entered the yard from 
the rear, and not far from the house. A 
big black woman, who sat just without a 
cabin door, picking a pile of rusty-looking 
moss, called out at sight of them : 

" W at s dat you s bringin in dis yard, 
boy? top dathoss?" 

She received no reply. Bertrand, indeed, 
took no notice of her inquiry. 

" Fu a boy w at goes to school like you 
does whar s yo sense ? " she went on, 
with a fine show of indignation ; then, mut 
tering to herself, " Ma ame Bertrand an 
Marse St. Ange ain t gwine stan dat, I 
knows dey ain t. Dah ! ef he ain t done 
sot im on de gall ry, plumb down in his pa s 
rockin -cheer ! " 

Which the boy had done; seated the 
tramp in a pleasant corner of the veranda, 
while he went in search of bandages for his 
wound. 



234 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

The servants showed high disapproval, 
the housemaid following Bertrand into his 
grandmother s room, whither he had carried 
his investigations. 

"Wat you tearin yo gra ma s closit to 
pieces dat away, boy ? " she complained in 
her high soprano. 

" I m looking for bandages." 

" Den w y you don t ax fu ban ges, an* 
lef yo gra ma s closit lone? You want 
to listen to me ; you gwine git shed o dat 
tramp settin dah naxt to de dinm -room ! 
Wen de silva be missin , tain you w at 
gwine git blame, it s me." 

" The silver? Nonsense, Cindy; the 
man s wounded, and can t you see he s out 
of his head?" 

" No mo outen his head an I is. T ain 
me w at want to tres [trust] im wid de 
sto -room key, ef he is outen his head," she 
concluded with a disdainful shrug. 

But Bertrand s protege proved so unap 
proachable in his long-worn rags, that the 
boy concluded to leave him unmolested till 
his father s return, and then ask permission 
to turn the forlorn creature into the bath 
house, and array him afterward in clean, 
fresh garments. 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 235 

So there the old tramp sat in the veranda 
corner, stolidly content, when St. Ange Del- 
mande and his mother returned from town. 

St. Ange was a dark, slender man of mid 
dle age, with a sensitive face, and a plen 
tiful sprinkle of gray in his thick black 
hair ; his mother, a portly woman, and an 
active one for her sixty-five years. 

They were evidently in a despondent 
mood. Perhaps it was for the cheer of her 
sweet presence that they had brought with 
them from town a little girl, the child of 
Madame Delmande s only daughter, who 
was married, and lived there. 

Madame Delmande and her son were as 
tonished to find so uninviting an intruder in 
possession. But a few earnest words from 
Bertrand reassured them, and partly recon 
ciled them to the man s presence ; and it was 
with wholly indifferent though not unkindly 
glances that they passed him by when they 
entered. On any large plantation there are 
always nooks and corners where, for a night 
or more, even such a man as this tramp 
may be tolerated and given shelter. 

When Bertrand went to bed that night, 
he lay long awake thinking of the man, and 
of what he had heard from his lips in the 



236 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

hushed starlight. The boy had heard of 
the awfulness of Gettysburg, till it was like 
something he could feel and quiver at. 

On that field of battle this man had re 
ceived a new and tragic birth. For all his 
existence that went before was a blank to 
him. There, in the black desolation of war, 
he was born again, without friends or kin 
dred ; without even a name he could know 
was his own. Then he had gone forth a 
wanderer; living more than half the time 
in hospitals ; toiling when he could, starving 
when he had to. 

Strangely enough, he had addressed Ber- 
trand as " St. Aiige," not once, but every 
time he had spoken to him. The boy won 
dered at this. Was it because he had heard 
Madame Delmande address her son by that 
name, and fancied it ? 

So this nameless wanderer had drifted far 
down to the plantation of Bon-Accueil, and 
at last had found a human hand stretched 
out to him in kindness. 

When the family assembled at breakfast 
on the following morning, the tramp was 
already settled in the chair, and in the cor 
ner which Bertrand s indulgence had made 
familiar to him. 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 237 

If he had turned partly around, he would 
have faced the flower garden, with its grav 
eled walks and trim parterres, where a tan 
gle of color and perfume were holding high 
revelry this April morning; but he liked 
better to gaze into the back yard, where 
there was always movement : men and wo 
men coming and going, bearing implements 
of work ; little negroes in scanty garments, 
darting here and there, and kicking up the 
dust in their exuberance. 

Madame Delmande could just catch a 
glimpse of him through the long window 
that opened to the floor, and near which he 
sat. 

Mr. Delmande had spoken to the man 
pleasantly; but he and his mother were 
wholly absorbed by their trouble, and talked 
constantly of that, while Bertrand went back 
and forth ministering to the old man s 
wants. The boy knew that the servants 
would have done the office with ill grace, 
and he chose to be cup-bearer himself to the 
unfortunate creature for whose presence he 
alone was responsible. 

Once, when Bertrand went out to him 
with a second cup of coffee, steaming and 
fragrant, the old man whispered : 



238 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

" What are they saying in there ? " point 
ing over his shoulder to the dining-room. 

" Oh, money troubles that will force us to 
economize for a while," answered the boy. 
"What father and me-mere feel worst about 
is that I shall have to leave college now." 

" No, no ! St. Ange must go to school. 
The war s over, the war s over ! St. Ange 
and Florentine must go to school." 

" But if there s no money," the boy in 
sisted, smiling like one who humors the va 
garies of a child. 

" Money ! money ! " murmured the tramp. 
" The war s over money ! money ! " 

His sleepy gaze had swept across the yard 
into the thick of the orchard beyond, and 
rested there. 

Suddenly he pushed aside the light table 
that had been set before him, and rose, 
clutching Bertrand s arm. 

" St. Ange, you must go to school ! " he 
whispered. " The war s over," looking fur 
tively around. " Come. Don t let them 
hear you. Don t let the negroes see us. 
Get a spade the little spade that Buck 
Williams was digging his cistern with." 

Still clutching the boy, he dragged him 
down the steps as he said this, and traversed 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 239 

the yard with long, limping strides, himself 
leading the way. 

From under a shed where such things 
were to be found, Bertrand selected a spade, 
since the tramp s whim demanded that he 
should, and together they entered the or 
chard. 

The grass was thick and tufted here, and 
wet with the morning dew. In long lines, 
forming pleasant avenues between, were 
peach-trees growing, and pear and apple and 
plum. Close against the fe nce was the pome 
granate hedge, with its waxen blossoms, 
brick-red. Far down in the centre of the 
orchard stood a huge pecan-tree, twice the 
size of any other that was there, seeming to 
rule like an old-time king. 

Here Bertrand and his guide stopped. 
The tramp had not once hesitated in his 
movements since grasping the arm of his 
young companion on the veranda. Now he 
went and leaned his back against the pecan- 
tree, where there was a deep knot, and look 
ing steadily before him he took ten paces 
forward. Turning sharply to the right, he 
made five additional paces. Then pointing 
his finger downward, and looking at Ber 
trand, he commanded : 



240 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

" There, dig. I would do it myself, but 
for my wounded foot. For I ve turned 
many a spade of earth since Gettysburg. 
Dig, St. Ange, dig ! The war s over ; you 
must go to school." 

Is there a boy of fifteen under the sun 
who would not have dug, even knowing he 
was following the insane dictates of a de 
mented man? Bertrand entered with all 
the zest of his years and his spirit into the 
curious adventure ; and he dug and dug, 
throwing great spadefuls of the rich, fra 
grant earth from side to side. 

The tramp, with body bent, and fingers 
like claws clasping his bony knees, stood 
watching with eager eyes, that never unfas 
tened their steady gaze from the boy s rhyth 
mic motions. 

" That s it ! " he muttered at intervals. 
" Dig, dig ! The war s over. You must go 
to school, St. Ange." 

Deep down in the earth, too deep for any 
ordinary turning of the soil with spade or 
plow to have reached it, was a box. It was 
of tin, apparently, something larger than a 
cigar box, and bound round and round with 
twine, rotted now and eaten away in places. 

The tramp showed no surprise at seeing 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 241 

it there ; he simply knelt upon the ground 
and lifted it from its long resting place. 

Bertrand had let the spade fall from his 
hands, and was quivering with the awe of 
the .thing he saw. Who could this wizard 
be that had come to him in the guise of a 
tramp, that walked in cabalistic paces upon 
his own father s ground, and pointed his fin 
ger like a divining-rod to the spot where 
boxes may be treasures lay ? It was like 
a page from a wonder-book. 

And walking behind this white-haired old 
man, who was again leading the way, some 
thing of childish superstition crept back into 
Bertrand s heart. It was the same feeling 
with which he had often sat, long ago, in the 
weird firelight of some negro s cabin, listen 
ing to tales of witches who came in the night 
to work uncanny spells at their will. 

Madame Delmande had never abandoned 
the custom of washing her own silver and 
dainty china. She sat, when the breakfast 
was over, with a pail of warm suds before 
her that Cindy had brought to her, with an 
abundance of soft linen cloths. Her little 
granddaughter stood beside her playing, as 
babies will, with the bright spoons and forks, 
and ranging them in rows on the polished 



242 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

mahogany. St. Ange was at the window 
making entries in a note-book, and frowning 
gloomily as he did so. 

The group in the dining-room were so em 
ployed when the old tramp came staggering 
in, Bertrand close behind him. 

He went and stood at the foot of the table, 
opposite to where Madame Delmande sat, 
and let fall the box upon it. 

The thing in falling shattered, and from 
its bursting sides gold came, clicking, spin 
ning, gliding, some of it like oil; rolling 
along the table and off it to the floor, but 
heaped up, the bulk of it, before the tramp. 

" Here s money ! " he called out, plung 
ing his old hand in the thick of it. " Who 
says St. Ange shall not go to school ? The 
war s over here s money ! St. Ange, my 
boy," turning to Bertrand and speaking with 
quick authority, "tell Buck Williams to 
hitch Black Bess to the buggy, and go bring 
Judge Parkerson here." 

Judge Parkerson, indeed, who had been 
dead for twenty years and more ! 

" Tell him that that " and the hand 
that was not in the gold went up to the with 
ered forehead, " that Bertrand Delmande 
needs him ! " 



A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 243 

Madame Delmande, at sight of the man 
with his box and his gold, had given a sharp 
cry, such as might follow the plunge of a 
knife. She lay now in her son s arms, pant 
ing hoarsely. 

" Your father, St. Ange, come back 
from the dead your father ! " 

" Be calm, mother ! " the man implored. 
" You had such sure proof of his death in 
that terrible battle, this may not be he." 

" I know him ! I know your father, my 
son ! " and disengaging herself from the arms 
that held her, she dragged herself as a 
wounded serpent might to where the old 
man stood. 

His hand was still in the gold, and on his 
face was yet the flush which had come there 
when he shouted out the name Bertrand 
Delmande. 

" Husband," she gasped, " do you know 
me your wife ? " 

The little girl was playing gleefully with 
the yellow coin. 

Bertrand stood, pulseless almost, like a 
young Action cut in marble. 

When the old man had looked long into 
the woman s imploring face, he made a 
courtly bow. 



244 A WIZARD FROM GETTYSBURG. 

" Madame," he said, " an old soldier, 
wounded on the field of Gettysburg, craves 
for himself and his two little children your 
kind hospitality." 



MA AME P^LAGIE. 

I. 

WHEN the war began, there stood on 
C6te Joyeuse an imposing mansion of red 
brick, shaped like the Pantheon. A grove 
of majestic live-oaks surrounded it. 

Thirty years later, only the thick walls 
were standing, with the dull red brick show 
ing here and there through a matted growth 
of clinging vines. The huge round pillars 
were intact ; so to some extent was the 
stone flagging of hall and portico. There 
had been no home so stately along the whole 
stretch of Cote Joyeuse. Every one knew 
that, as they knew it had cost Philippe Val- 
met sixty thousand dollars to build, away 
back in 1840. No one was in danger of 
forgetting that fact, so long as his daughter 
Pelagic survived. She was a queenly, white- 
haired woman of fifty. " Ma ame Pelagie," 
they called her, though she was unmarried, 
as was her sister Pauline, a child in Ma ame 
Pelagie s eyes ; a child of thirty-five. 



246 MA AME PELAGIE. 

The two lived alone in a three-roomed 
cabin, almost within the shadow of the ruin. 
They lived for a dream, for Ma ame Pela- 
gie s dream, which was to rebuild the old 
home. 

It would be pitiful to tell how their days 
were spent to accomplish this end ; how the 
dollars had been saved for thirty years and 
the picayunes hoarded ; and yet, not half 
enough gathered ! But Ma ame Pelagie 
felt sure of twenty years of life before her, 
and counted upon as many more for her 
sister. And what could not come to pass 
in twenty in forty years ? 

Often, of pleasant afternoons, the two 
would drink their black coffee, seated upon 
the stone-flagged portico whose canopy was 
the blue sky of Louisiana. They loved to 
sit there in the silence, with only each other 
and the sheeny, prying lizards for company, 
talking of the old times and planning for 
the new ; while light breezes stirred the tat 
tered vines high up among the columns, 
where owls nested. 

" We can never hope to have all just as 
it was, Pauline," Ma ame Pelagie would 
say ; " perhaps the marble pillars of the 
salon will have to be replaced by wooden 



MA AME PELAGIE. 247 

ones, and the crystal candelabra left out. 
Should you be willing, Pauline ? " 

" Oh, yes, Sesoeur, I shall be willing." It 
was always, " Yes, Sesoeur," or " No, Se 
soeur," " Just as you please, Sesoeur," with 
poor little Mam selle Pauline. For what 
did she remember of that old life and that 
old splendor ? Only a faint gleam here and 
there ; the half -consciousness of a young, 
uneventful existence ; and then a great 
crash. That meant the nearness of war ; 
the revolt of slaves ; confusion ending in 
fire and flame through which she was borne 
safely in the strong arms of Pelagie, and 
carried to the log cabin which was still their 
home. Their brother, Leandre, had known 
more of it* all than Pauline, and not so 
much as Pelagie. He had left the manage 
ment of the big plantation with all its mem 
ories and traditions to his older sister, and 
had gone away to dwell in cities. That was 
many years ago. Now, Leandre s business 
called him frequently and upon long jour 
neys from home, and his motherless daugh 
ter was coming to stay with her aunts at 
Cote Joyeuse. 

They talked about it, sipping their coffee 
on the ruined portico. Mam selle Pauline 



248 MAAME PELAGIE. 

was terribly excited ; the flush that throbbed 
into her pale, nervous face showed it ; and 
she locked her thin fingers in and out in 
cessantly. 

" But what shall we do with La Petite, 
Sesoeur ? Where shall we put her ? How 
shall we amuse her? Ah, Seigneur ! " 

" She will sleep upon a cot in the room 
next to ours," responded Ma ame Pelagie, 
" and live as we do. She knows how we 
live, and why we live ; her father has told 
her. She knows we have money and could 
squander it if we chose. Do not fret, Paul 
ine; let us hope La Petite is a true Val- 
met." 

Then Ma ame Pelagie rose with stately 
deliberation and went to saddle* her horse, 
for she had yet to make her last daily round 
through the fields ; and Mam selle Pauline 
threaded her way slowly among the tangled 
grasses toward the cabin. 

The coming of La Petite, bringing with 
her as she did the pungent atmosphere of 
an outside and dimly known world, was a 
shock to these two, living their dream-life. 
The girl was quite as tall as her aunt Pela 
gie, with dark eyes that reflected joy as a 
still pool reflects the light of stars ; and her 



MA*AME PELAGIE. 249 

rounded cheek was tinged like the pink 
crepe myrtle. Mam selle Pauline kissed 
her and trembled. Ma ame Pelagie looked 
into her eyes with a searching gaze, which 
seemed to seek a likeness of the past in the 
living present. 

And they made room between them for 
this young life. 

ii. 

La Petite had determined upon trying to 
fit herself to the strange, narrow existence 
which she knew awaited her at Cote Joy- 
euse. It went well enough at first. Some 
times she followed Ma ame Pelagie into the 
fields to note how the cotton was opening, 
ripe and white ; or to count the ears of corn 
upon the hardy stalks. But oftener she was 
with her aunt Pauline, assisting in house 
hold offices, chattering of her brief past, or 
walking with the older woman arm-in-arm 
under the trailing moss of the giant oaks. 

Mam selle Pauline s steps grew very buoy 
ant that summer, and her eyes were some 
times as bright as a bird s, unless La Petite 
were away from her side, when they would 
lose all other light but one of uneasy expec 
tancy. The girl seemed to love her well 



250 MAAME PELAGIE. 

in return, and called her endearingly Tan - 
tante. But as the time went by, La Petite 
became very quiet, not listless, but 
thoughtful, and slow in her movements. 
Then her cheeks began to pale, till they 
were tinged like the creamy plumes of the 
white crepe myrtle that grew in the ruin. 

One day when she sat within its shadow, 
between her aunts, holding a hand of each, 
she said : " Tante Pelagie, I must tell you 
something, you and Tan tante." She spoke 
low, but clearly and firmly. " I love you 
both, please remember that I love you 
both. But I must go away from you. I 
can t live any longer here at Cote Joyeuse." 

A spasm passed through Mam selle Paul 
ine s delicate frame. La Petite could feel 
the twitch of it in the wiry fingers that were 
intertwined with her own. Ma ame Pelagie 
remained unchanged and motionless. No 
human eye could penetrate so deep as to see 
the satisfaction which her soul felt. She 
said : " What do you mean, Petite ? Your 
father has sent you to us, and I am sure it 
is his wish that you remain." 

" My father loves me, tante Pe*lagie, and 
such will not be his wish when he knows. 
Oh ! " she continued with a restless move- 



MA AME PELAGIE. 251 

ment, " it is as though a weight were press 
ing me backward here. I must live another 
life ; the life I lived before. I want to know 
things that are happening from day to day 
over the world, and hear them talked about. 
I want my music, my books, my companions. 
If I had known no other life but this one of 
privation, I suppose it would be different. 
If I had to live this life, I should make the 
best of it. But I do not have to ; and you 
know, tante Pelagie, you do not need to. It 
seems to me," she added in a whisper, " that 
it is a sin against myself. Ah, Tan tante ! 
what is the matter with Tan tante ? " 

It was nothing; only a slight feeling of 
faintness, that would soon pass. She en 
treated them to take no notice ; but they 
brought her some water and fanned her with 
a palmetto leaf. 

But that night, in the stillness of the 
room, Mam selle Pauline sobbed and would 
not be comforted. Ma ame Pelagie took 
her in her arms. 

" Pauline, my little sister Pauline," she 
entreated, " I never have seen you like this 
before. Do you no longer love me ? Have 
we not been happy together, you and I? " 

" Oh, yes, Sesoeur." 



252 MA AME PELAGIE. 

" Is it because La Petite is going away?" 

" Yes, Sesoeur." 

" Then she is dearer to you than I ! " 
spoke Ma ame Pelagie with sharp resent 
ment. " Than I, who held you and warmed 
you in my arms the day you were born ; 
than I, your mother, father, sister, every 
thing that could cherish you. Pauline, don t 
tell me that." 

Mam selle Pauline tried to talk through 
her sobs. 

"I can t explain it to you, Sesoeur. I 
don t understand it myself. I love you as I 
have always loved you ; next to God. But 
if La Petite goes away I shall die. I can t 
understand, help me, Sesoeur. She seems 
she seems like a saviour ; like one who 
had come and taken me by the hand and 
was leading me somewhere somewhere I 
want to go." 

Ma ame Pelagie had been sitting beside 
the bed in her peignoir and slippers. She 
held the hand of her sister who lay there, 
and smoothed down the woman s soft brown 
hair. She said not a word, and the silence 
was broken only by Ma mselle Pauline s 
continued sobs. Once Ma ame Pelagie arose 
to drink of orange-flower water, which she 



MA AME PELAGIE. 253 

gave to her sister, as she would have offered 
it to a nervous, fretful child. Almost an 
hour passed before Ma ame Pelagie spoke 
again. Then she said : 

" Pauline, you must cease that sobbing, 
now, and sleep. You will make yourself ill. 
La Petite will not go away. Do you hear 
me? Do you understand? She will stay, 
I promise you." 

Mam selle Pauline could not clearly com 
prehend, but she had great faith in the word 
of her sister, and soothed by the promise 
and the touch of Ma ame Pelagie s strong, 
gentle hand, she fell asleep. 

in. 

Ma ame Pelagie, when she saw that her 
sister slept, arose noiselessly and stepped 
outside upon the low-roofed narrow gallery. 
She did not linger there, but with a step 
that was hurried and agitated, she crossed 
the distance that divided her cabin from the 
ruin. 

The night was not a dark one, for the sky 
was clear and the moon resplendent. But 
light or dark would have made no difference 
to Ma ame Pelagie. It was not the first 
time she had stolen away to the ruin at 



254 MADAME PELAGIE. 

night-time, when the whole plantation slept ; 
but she never before had been there with a 
heart so nearly broken. She was going there 
for the last time to dream her dreams ; to 
see the visions that hitherto had crowded 
her days and nights, and to bid them fare 
well. 

There was the first of them, awaiting her 
upon the very portal ; a robust old white- 
haired man, chiding her for returning home 
so late. There are guests to be entertained. 
Does she not know it? Guests from the 
city and from the near plantations. Yes, 
she knows it is late. She had been abroad 
with Felix, and they did not notice how the 
time was speeding. Felix is there ; he will 
explain it all. He is there beside her, but 
she does not want to hear what he will tell 
her father. 

Ma ame Pelagic had sunk upon the bench 
where she and her sister so often came to 
sit. Turning, she gazed in through the gap 
ing chasm of the window at her side. The 
interior of the ruin is ablaze. Not with the 
moonlight, for that is faint beside the other 
one the sparkle from the crystal cande 
labra, which negroes, moving noiselessly and 
respectfully about, are lighting, one after 



MA AME PELAGIE. 255 

the other. How the gleam of them reflects 
and glances from the polished marble pil 
lars! 

The room holds a number of guests. 
There is old Monsieur Lucien Santien, lean 
ing against one of the pillars, and laugh 
ing at something which Monsieur Lafirme 
is telling him, till his fat shoulders shake. 
His son Jules is with him -Jules, who 
wants to marry her. She laughs. She 
wonders if Felix has told her father yet. 
There is young Jerome Lafirme playing at 
checkers upon the sofa with Leandre. Little 
Pauline stands annoying them and disturb 
ing the game. Leandre reproves her. She 
begins to cry, and old black Clementine, her 
nurse, who is not far off, limps across the 
room to pick her up and carry her away. 
How sensitive the little one is ! But she 
trots about and takes care of herself better 
than she did a year or two ago, when she 
fell upon the stone hall floor and raised a 
great " bo-bo " on her forehead. Pelagie 
was hurt and angry enough about it ; and 
she ordered rugs and buffalo robes to be 
brought and laid thick upon the tiles, till 
the little one s steps were surer. 

" II ne faut pas faire mal a Pauline." 



256 MA AME PELAGIE. 

She was saying it aloud " faire mal a 
Pauline." 

But she gazes beyond the salon, back into 
the big dining hall, where the white crepe 
myrtle grows. Ha ! how low that bat has 
circled. It has struck Ma ame Pelagie full 
on the breast. She does not know it. She 
is beyond there in the dining hall, where 
her father sits with a group of friends over 
their wine. As usual they are talking pol 
itics. How tiresome ! She has heard them 
say " la guerre " oftener than once. La 
guerre. Bah ! She and Felix have some 
thing pleasanter to talk about, out under 
the oaks, or back in the shadow of the 
oleanders. 

But they were right ! The sound of a 
cannon, shot at Sumter, has rolled across 
the Southern States, and its echo is heard 
along the whole stretch of Cote Joyeuse. 

Yet Pelagie does not believe it. Not till 
La Ricaneuse stands before her with bare, 
black arms akimbo, uttering a volley of vile 
abuse and of brazen impudence. Pelagie 
wants to kill her. But yet she will not be 
lieve. Not till Felix comes to her in the cham 
ber above the dining hall there where that 
trumpet vine hangs comes to say good-by 



MA AME PELAGIE. 257 

to her. The hurt which the big brass but 
tons of his new gray uniform pressed into 
the tender flesh of her bosom has never left 
it. She sits upon the sofa, and he beside 
her, both speechless with pain. That room 
would not have been altered. Even the 
sofa would have been there in the same 
spot, and Ma ame Pelagie had meant all 
along, for thirty years, all along, to lie there 
upon it some day when the time came to 
die. 

But there is no time to weep, with the 
enemy at the door. The door has been no 
barrier. They are clattering through the 
halls now, drinking the wines, shattering the 
crystal and glass, slashing the portraits. 

One of them stands before her and tells 
her to leave the house. She slaps his face. 
How the stigma stands out red as blood 
upon his blanched cheek ! 

Now there is a roar of fire and the flames 
are bearing down upon her motionless fig 
ure. She wants to show them how a daugh 
ter of Louisiana can perish before her con 
querors. But little Pauline clings to her 
knees in an agony of terror. Little Pauline 
must be saved. 

" II ne faut pas faire mal a Pauline." 



258 MA AME PELAG1E. 

Again she is saying it aloud " faire mal 
a Pauline." 



The night was nearly spent ; Ma ame Pe- 
lagie had glided from the bench upon which 
she had rested, and for hours lay prone upon 
the stone flagging, motionless. When she 
dragged herself to her feet it was to walk 
like one in a dream. About the great, sol 
emn pillars, one after the other, she reached 
her arms, and pressed her cheek and her lips 
upon the senseless brick. 

" Adieu, adieu ! " whispered Ma ame Pe- 
lagie. 

There was no longer the moon to guide 
her steps across the familiar pathway to the 
cabin. The brightest light in the sky was 
Venus, that swung low in the east. The 
bats had ceased to beat their wings about 
the ruin. Even the mocking-bird that had 
warbled for hours in the old mulberry-tree 
had sung himself asleep. That darkest 
hour before the day was mantling the earth. 
Ma ame Pelagie hurried through the wet, 
clinging grass, beating aside the heavy moss 
that swept across her face, walking on to 
ward the cabin toward Pauline. Not 
once did she look back upon the ruin that 



MAAME PELAGIE. 259 

brooded like a huge monster a black spot 
in the darkness that enveloped it. 

TV. 

Little more than a year later the trans 
formation which the old Valmet place had 
undergone was the talk and wonder of Cote 
Joyeuse. One would have looked in vain 
for the ruin ; it was no longer there ; neither 
was the log cabin. But out in the open, 
where the sun shone upon it, and the breezes 
blew about it, was a shapely structure fash 
ioned from woods that the forests of the 
State had furnished. It rested upon a solid 
foundation of brick. 

Upon a corner of the pleasant gallery sat 
Leandre smoking his afternoon cigar, and 
chatting with neighbors who had called. 
This was to be his pied a terre now ; the 
home where his sisters and his daughter 
dwelt. The laughter of young people was 
heard out under the trees, and within the 
house where La Petite was playing upon 
the piano. With the enthusiasm of a young 
artist she drew from the keys strains that 
seemed marvelously beautiful to Mam selle 
Pauline, who stood enraptured near her. 
Mam selle Pauline had been touched by the 



260 MA .AME PELAGIE. 

re-creation of Valmet. Her cheek was as 
full and almost as flushed as La Petite s. 
The years were falling away from her. 

Ma ame Pelagie had been conversing with 
her brother and his friends. Then she 
turned and walked away ; stopping to listen 
awhile to the music which La Petite was 
making. But it was only for a moment. 
She went on around the curve of the ve 
randa, where she found herself alone. She 
stayed there, erect, holding to the banister 
rail and looking out calmly in the distance 
across the fields. 

She was dressed in black, with the white 
kerchief she always wore folded across her 
bosom. Her thick, glossy hair rose like a 
silver diadem from her brow. In her deep, 
dark eyes smouldered the light of fires that 
would never flame. She had grown very 
old. Years instead of months seemed to 
have passed over her since the night she bade 
farewell to her visions. 

Poor Ma ame Pelagie ! How could it be 
different ! While the outward pressure of 
a young and joyous existence had forced her 
footsteps into the light, her soul had stayed 
in the shadow of the ruin. 



AT THE CADIAN BALL. 



that big, brown, good-natured 
Bobinot, had no intention of going to the 
ball, even though he knew Calixta would 
be there. For what came of those balls 
but heartache, and a sickening disinclina 
tion for work the whole week through, till 
Saturday night came again and his tortures 
began afresh? Why could he not love 
Ozeina, who would marry him to-morrow ; 
or Fronie, or any one of a dozen others, 
rather than that little Spanish vixen? Ca- 
lixta s slender foot had never touched Cuban 
soil ; but her mother s had, and the Spanish 
was in her blood all the same. For that 
reason the prairie people forgave her much 
that they would not have overlooked in 
their own daughters or sisters. 

Her eyes, Bobinot thought of her eyes, 
and weakened, the bluest, the drowsiest, 
most tantalizing that ever looked into a 
man s ; he thought of her flaxen hair that 
kinked worse than a mulatto s close to her 



262 AT THE CADI AN BALL. 

head ; that broad, smiling mouth and tip- 
tilted nose, that full figure ; that voice like 
a rich contralto song, with cadences in it 
that must have been taught by Satan, for 
there was no one else to teach her tricks on 
that Cadian prairie. Bobinot thought of 
them all as he plowed his rows of cane. 

There had even been a breath of scan 
dal whispered about her a year ago, when 
she went to Assumption, but why talk of 
it ? No one did now. " C est Espagnol, 
$a," most of them said with lenient shoul 
der-shrugs. "Bon chien tient de race," 
the old men mumbled over their pipes, 
stirred by recollections. Nothing was made 
of it, except that Fronie threw it up to Ca- 
lixta when the two quarreled and fought 
on the church steps after mass one Sunday, 
about a lover. Calixta swore roundly in 
fine Cadian French and with true Spanish 
spirit, and slapped Fronie s face. Fronie 
had slapped her back ; " Tiens, bocotte, va ! " 
" Espece de lionese ; prends ca, et c,a ! " 
till the cure himself was obliged to hasten 
and make peace between them. Bobinot 
thought of it all, and would not go to the 
ball. 

But in the afternoon, over at Friedhei- 



AT THE CADI AN BALL. 263 

mer s store, where he was buying a trace- 
chain, he heard some one say that Alcee 
Laballiere would be there. Then wild 
horses could not have kept him away. He 
knew how it would be or rather he did 
not know how it would be if the hand 
some young planter came over to the ball 
as he sometimes did. If Alcee happened to 
be in a serious mood, he might only go to 
the card-room and play a round or two ; 
or he might stand out on the galleries talk 
ing crops and politics with the old people. 
But there was no telling. A drink or two 
could put the devil in his head, that was 
what Bobinot said to himself, as he wiped 
the sweat from his brow with his red ban 
danna ; a gleam from Calixta s eyes, a flash 
of her ankle, a twirl of her skirts could do 
the same. Yes, Bobinot would go to the 
ball. 

That was the year Alcee Laballiere put 
nine hundred acres in rice. It was putting 
a good deal of money into the ground, but 
the returns promised to be glorious. Old 
Madame Laballiere, sailing about the spa 
cious galleries in her white volante, figured 
it all out in her head. Clarisse, her god- 



264 AT THE CADIAN BALL. 

daughter, helped her a little, and together 
they built more air-castles than enough. 
Aleee worked like a mule that time ; and if 
he did not kill himself, it was because his 
constitution was an iron one. It was an 
every-day affair for him to come in from 
the field well-nigh exhausted, and wet to the 
waist. He did not mind if there were visi 
tors ; he left them to his mother and Cla- 
risse. There were often guests : young men 
and women who came up from the city, 
which was but a few hours away, to visit 
his beautiful kinswoman. She was worth 
going a good deal farther than that to see. 
Dainty as a lily ; hardy as a sunflower ; 
slim, tall, graceful, like one of the reeds 
that grew in the marsh. Cold and kind 
and cruel by turn, and everything that was 
aggravating to Alcee. 

He would have liked to sweep the place 
of those visitors, often. Of the men, above 
all, with their ways and their manners ; 
their swaying of fans like women, and dand 
ling about hammocks. He could have pitched 
them over the levee into the river, if it 
hadn t meant murder. That was Alcee. 
But he must have been crazy the day he 
came in from the rice-field, and, toil-stained 



AT THE CADI AN BALL. 265 

as he was, clasped Clarisse by the arms and 
panted a volley of hot, blistering love-words 
into her face. No man had ever spoken 
love to her like that. 

" Monsieur ! " she exclaimed, looking him 
full in the eyes, without a quiver. Alcee s 
hands dropped and his glance wavered be 
fore the chill of her calm, clear eyes. 

"Par exemple ! " she muttered disdain 
fully, as she turned from him, deftly adjust 
ing the careful toilet that he had so brutally 
disarranged. 

That happened a day or two before the 
cyclone came that cut into the rice like fine 
steel. It was an awful thing, coming so 
swiftly, without a moment s w r arning in 
which to light a holy candle or set a piece 
of blessed palm burning. Old madame 
wept openly and said her beads, just as her 
son Didier, the New Orleans one, would have 
done. If such a thing had happened to 
Alphonse, the Laballiere planting cotton up 
in Natchitoches, he would have raved and 
stormed like a second cyclone, and made his 
surroundings unbearable for a day or two. 
But Alcee took the misfortune differently. 
He looked ill and gray after it, and said 
nothing. His speechlessness was frightful. 



266 AT THE CADI AN BALL. 

Clarisse s heart melted with tenderness ; but 
when she offered her soft, purring words 
of condolence, he accepted them with mute 
indifference. Then she and her nenaine 
wept afresh in each other s arms. 

A night or two later, when Clarisse went 
to her window to kneel there in the moon 
light and say her prayers before retiring, 
she saw that Bruce, Alcee s negro servant, 
had led his master s saddle-horse noiselessly 
along the edge of the sward that bordered 
the gravel-path, and stood holding him near 
by. Presently, she heard Alcee quit his 
room, which was beneath her own, and trav 
erse the lower portico. As he emerged 
from the shadow and crossed the strip of 
moonlight, she perceived that he carried a 
pair of well-filled saddle-bags which he at 
once flung across the animal s back. He 
then lost no time in mounting, and after a 
brief exchange of words with Bruce, went 
cantering away, taking no precaution to 
avoid the noisy gravel as the negro had 
done. 

Clarisse had never suspected that it might 
be Alcee s custom to sally forth from the 
plantation secretly, and at such an hour; 
for it was nearly midnight. And had it not 



AT THE CADI AN BALL. 267 

been for the telltale saddle-bags, she would 
only have crept to bed, to wonder, to fret 
and dream unpleasant dreams. But her 
impatience and anxiety would not be held 
in check. Hastily unbolting the shutters of 
her door that opened upon the gallery, she 
stepped outside and called softly to the old 
negro. 

" Gre t Peter ! Miss Clarisse. I was n 
sho it was a ghos o w at, stan in up dah, 
plumb in de night, data way." 

He mounted halfway up the long, broad 
flight of stairs. She was standing at the top. 

" Bruce, w ere has Monsieur Alcee gone ? " 
she asked. 

" Wy, he gone bout he business, I 
reckin," replied Bruce, striving to be non 
committal at the outset. 

a W ere has Monsieur Alcee gone ? " she 
reiterated, stamping her bare foot. " I 
won t stan any nonsense or any lies ; mine, 
Bruce." 

" I don ric lic ez I eva tole you lie yit, 
Miss Clarisse. Mista Alcee, he all broke 
up, sho." 

" Were has he gone ? Ah, Sainte 
Vierge ! faut de la patience ! butor, va ! " 

" Wen I was in he room, a-breshin off he 



268 AT THE CADIAN BALL. 

clo es to-day," the darkey began, settling 
himself against the stair-rail, " he look dat 
speechless an down, I say, You pear tu 
me like some pussun w at gwine have a spell 
o sickness, Mista Aleee. He say, You 
reckin ? I dat he git up, go look hisse f 
stiddy in de glass. Den he go to de chimbly 
an jerk up de quinine bottle an po a gre t 
hoss-dose on to he han . An he swalla dat 
mess in a wink, an wash hit down wid a big 
dram o w iskey w at he keep in he room, 
aginst he come all soppin wet outen de fiel . 
" He lows, No, I ain gwine be sick, 
Bruce. Den he square off. He say, I kin 
mak out to stan up an gi an take wid any 
man I knows, lessen hit s John L. Sulvuii. 
But w en God A mighty an a oman jines 
fo ces agin me, dat s one too many fur me. 
I tell im, Jis so, whils I se makin out to 
bresh a spot off w at ain dah, on he coat 
colla. I tell im, You wants li le res , suh. 
He say, No, I wants li le fling ; dat w at I 
wants ; an I gwine git it. Pitch me a fis ful 
o clo es in dem ar saddle-bags. Dat w at 
he say. Don t you bodda, missy. He jis 
gone a-caperin yonda to de Cajun ball. Uh 
uh de skeeters is fair a-swarmin like 
bees roun yo foots ! " 



AT THE CADIAN BALL. 269 

The mosquitoes were indeed attacking 
Clarisse s white feet savagely. She had un 
consciously been alternately rubbing one foot 
over the other during the darkey s recital. 

" The Cadian ball," she repeated con- 
temptously. " Humph ! Par exemple ! 
Nice conduc for a Laballiere. An he 
needs a saddle-bag, fill with clothes, to go 
to the Cadian ball ! " 

" Oh, Miss Clarisse ; you go on to bed, 
chile ; git yo soun sleep. He low he come 
back in couple weeks o so. I kiarn be re- 
peatin lot o truck w at young mans say, 
out heah face o a young gal." 

Clarisse said no more, but turned and ab 
ruptly reentered the house. 

" You done talk too much wid yo mouf 
a ready, you ole fool nigga, you," muttered 
Bruce to himself as he walked away. 

Alce e reached the ball very late, of course 
too late for the chicken gumbo which had 
been served at midnight. 

The big, low-ceiled room they called it 
a hall was packed with men and women 
dancing to the music of three fiddles. There 
were broad galleries all around it. There 
was a room at one side where sober-faced 



AT THE ACADIAN BALL. 

men were playing cards. Another, in which 
babies were sleeping, was called le pare aux 
petits. Any one who is white may go to a 
Cadian ball, but he must pay for his lemon 
ade, his coffee and chicken gumbo. And he 
must behave himself like a Cadian. Gros- 
boeuf was giving this ball. He had been giv 
ing them since he was a young man, and he 
was a middle-aged one, now. In that time 
he could recall but one disturbance, and that 
was caused by American railroaders, who 
were not in touch with their surroundings 
and had no business there. " Ces maudits 
gens du raiderode," Grosboeuf called them. 
Alcee Laballiere s presence at the ball 
caused a flutter even among the men, who 
could not but admire his " nerve " after such 
misfortune befalling him. To be sure, they 
knew the Laballieres were rich that there 
were resources East, and more again in the 
city. But they felt it took a brave homme 
to stand a blow like that philosophically. 
One old gentleman, who was in the habit of 
reading a Paris newspaper and knew things, 
chuckled gleefully to everybody that Alcee s 
conduct was altogether chic, mais chic. 
That he had more panache than Boulanger. 
Well, perhaps he had. 



AT THE CADI AN BALL. 271 

But what he did not show outwardly 
was that he was in a mood for ugly things 
to-night. Poor Bobin6t alone felt it vaguely. 
He discerned a gleam of it in Alcee s hand 
some eyes, as the young planter stood in 
the doorway, looking with rather feverish 
glance upon tlie assembly, while he laughed 
and talked with a Cadian farmer who was 
beside him. 

Bobindt himself was dull-looking and 
clumsy. Most of the men were. But the 
young women were very beautiful. The 
eyes that glanced into AlceVs as they 
passed him were big, dark, soft as those of 
the young heifers standing out in the cool 
prairie grass. 

But the belle was Calixta. Her white 
dress was not nearly so handsome or well 
made as Fronie s (she and Fronie had quite 
forgotten the battle on the church steps, 
and were friends again), nor were her slip 
pers so stylish as those of Ozeina ; and she 
fanned herself with a handkerchief, since 
she had broken her red fan at the last ball, 
and her aunts and uncles were not willing 
to give her another. But all the men agreed 
she was at her best to-night. Such anima 
tion ! and abandon ! such flashes of wit ! 



272 AT THE CADI AN BALL. 

" He, Bobindt ! Mais w at s the matta ? 
Wat you standin plante la like ole Ma ame 
Tina s cow in the bog, you ? " 

That was good. That was an excellent 
thrust at Bobinot, who had forgotten the 
figure of the dance with his mind bent on 
other things, and it started a clamor of 
laughter at his expense. He joined good- 
naturedly. It was better to receive even 
such notice as that from Calixta than none 
at all. But Madame Suzoiine, sitting in 
a corner, whispered to her neighbor that if 
Ozeina were to conduct herself in a like man 
ner, she should immediately be taken out to 
the mule-cart and driven home. The women 
did not always approve of Calixta. 

Now and then were short lulls in the 
dance, when couples flocked out upon the 
galleries for a brief respite and fresh air. 
The moon had gone down pale in the west, 
and in the east was yet no promise of day. 
After such an interval, when the dancers 
again assembled to resume the interrupted 
quadrille, Calixta was not among them. 

She was sitting upon a bench out in the 
shadow, with Alcee beside her. They were 
acting like fools. He had attempted to take 
a little gold ring from her finger ; just for 



AT THE ACADIAN BALL. 273 

the fun of it, for there was nothing he could 
have done with the ring but replace it again. 
But she clinched her hand tight. He pre 
tended that it was a very difficult matter to 
open it. Then he kept the hand in his. 
They seemed to forget about it. He played 
with her ear-ring, a thin crescent of gold 
hanging from her small brown ear. He 
caught a wisp of the kinky hair that had 
escaped its fastening, and rubbed the ends 
of it against his shaven cheek. 

"You know, last year in Assumption, 
Calixta?" They belonged to the younger 
generation, so preferred to speak English. 

"Don t come say Assumption to me, 
M sieur Alcee. I done yeard Assumption 
till I m plumb sick." 

" Yes, I know. The idiots ! Because you 
were in Assumption, and I happened to go 
to Assumption, they must have it that we 
went together. But it was nice hein^ 
Calixta ? in Assumption ? " 

They saw Bobinot emerge from the hall 
and stand a moment outside the lighted 
doorway, peering uneasily and searchingly 
into the darkness. He did not see them, 
and went slowly back. 

" There is Bobinot looking for you. You 



274 AT THE CAD I AN BALL. 

are going to set poor Bobinot crazy. You 11 
marry him some day ; hein, Calixta ? " 

" I don t say no, me," she replied, striving 
to withdraw her hand, which he held more 
firmly for the attempt. 

" But come, Calixta ; you know you said 
you would go back to Assumption, just to 
spite them." 

"No, I neva said that, me. You mus 
dreamt that." 

" Oh, I thought you did. You know I m 
going down to the city." 

"Wen?" 

" To-night." 

" Betta make has e, then ; it s mos day." 

" Well, to-morrow 11 do." 

" Wat you goin do, yonda ? " 

" I don t know. Drown myself in the 
lake, maybe ; unless you go down there to 
visit your uncle." 

Calixta s senses were reeling ; and they 
well-nigh left her when she felt Alcee s lips 
brush her ear like the touch of a rose. 

"Mista Alcee! Is dat Mista Alcee?" 
the thick voice of a negro was asking ; he 
stood on the ground, holding to the banister- 
rails near which the couple sat. 

"Wat do you want now?" cried Alcee 



AT THE CADIAN BALL. 275 

impatiently. " Can t I have a moment of 
peace ? " 

" I ben huntin you high an low, suh," 
answered the man. " Dey dey some one 
in de road, onda de mulbare-tree, want see 
you a minute." 

" I would n t go out to the road to see the 
Angel Gabriel. And if you come back here 
with any more talk, I 11 have to break your 
neck." The negro turned mumbling away. 

Alcee and Calixta laughed softly about it. 
Her boisterousness was all gone. They 
talked low, and laughed softly, as lovers do. 

" Alcee ! Alcee Laballiere ! " 

It was not the negro s voice this time ; but 
one that went through Alcee s body like an 
electric shock, bringing him to his feet. 

Clarisse was standing there in her riding- 
habit, where the negro had stood. For an 
instant confusion reigned in Alcee s thoughts, 
as with one who awakes suddenly from a 
dream. But he felt that something of se 
rious import had brought his cousin to the 
ball in the dead of night. 

"Wat does this mean, Clarisse?" he 
asked. 

" It means something has happen at 
home. You mus come." 



276 AT THE CADIAN BALL. 

" Happened to maman ? " he questioned, 
in alarm. 

" No ; nenaine is well, and asleep. It is 
something else. Not to frighten you. But 
you mus come. Come with me, Alcee." 

There was no need for the imploring note. 
He would have followed the voice anywhere. 

She had now recognized the girl sitting 
back on the bench. 

" Ah, c est vous, Calixta ? Comment ca 
va, mon enfant ? " 

" Tcha va b en ; et vous, mam zelle ? " 

Alcee swung himself over the low rail and 
started to follow Clarisse, without a word, 
without a glance back at the girl. He had 
forgotten he was leaving her there. But 
Clarisse whispered something to him, and 
he turned back to say " Good-night, Calixta," 
and offer his hand to press through the rail 
ing. She pretended not to see it. 

" How come that ? You settin yere by 
yo se f , Calixta ? " It was Bobinot who had 
found her there alone. The dancers had not 
yet come out. She looked ghastly in the 
faint, gray light struggling out of the east. 

" Yes, that s me. Go yonda in the pare 
aux petits an ask Aunt Olisse fu my hat. 



AT THE CADIAN BALL. 277 

She knows w ere t is. I want to go home, 
me." 

" How you came ? " 

"I come afoot, with the Cateaus. But 
I m goin now. I ent goin wait fu em. 
I m plumb wo out, me." 

" Kin I go with you, Calixta ?" 

" I don care." 

They went together across the open prairie 
and along the edge of the fields, stumbling 
in the uncertain light. He told her to lift 
her dress that was getting wet and bedrag 
gled ; for she was pulling at the weeds and 
grasses with her hands. 

" I don care ; it s got to go in the tub, 
anyway. You been sayin all along you 
want to marry me, Bobinot. Well, if you 
want, yet, I don care, me." 

The glow of a sudden and overwhelming 
happiness shone out in the brown, rugged 
face of the young Acadian. He could not 
speak, for very joy. It choked him. 

"Oh well, if you don want," snapped 
Calixta, flippantly, pretending to be piqued 
at his silence. 

" Bon Dieu ! You know that makes me 
crazy, w at you sayin . You mean that, 
Calixta ? You ent goin turn roun agin ? " 



278 AT THE ACADIAN BALL. 

" I neva tole you that much yet, Bobinot. 
I mean that. Tiens" and she held out her 
hand in the business-like manner of a man 
who clinches a bargain with a hand-clasp. 
Bobinot grew bold with happiness and asked 
Calixta to kiss him. She turned her face, 
that was almost ugly after the night s dissi 
pation, and looked steadily into his. 

" I don want to kiss you, Bobinot," she 
said, turning away again, " not to-day. Some 
other time. Bonte divine ! ent you satisfy, 
yet!" 

" Oh, I m satisfy, Calixta," he said. 

Riding through a patch of wood, Clarisse s 
saddle became ungirted, and she and Alcee 
dismounted to readjust it. 

For the twentieth time he asked her what 
had happened at home. 

" But, Clarisse, w at is it ? Is it a mis 
fortune ? " 

" Ah Dieu sait ! " It s only something 
that happen to me." 

" To you ! " 

" I saw you go away las night, Alcee, 
with those saddle-bags," she said, haltingly, 
striving to arrange something about the sad 
dle, u an I made Bruce tell me. He said 



AT THE CADI AN BALL. 279 

you had gone to the ball, an wouldn be 
home for weeks an weeks. I thought, 
Alcee maybe you were going to to As 
sumption. I got wild. An then I knew 
if you did n t come back, now, to-night, I 
could n t stan it, again." 

She had her face hidden in her arm that 
she was resting against the saddle when she 
said that. 

He began to wonder if this meant love. 
But she had to tell him so, before he be 
lieved it. And when she told him, he 
thought the face of the Universe was changed 
just like Bobinot. Was it last week the 
cyclone had well-nigh ruined him ? The 
cyclone seemed a huge joke, now. It was 
he, then, who, an hour ago was kissing little 
Calixta s ear and whispering nonsense into 
it. Calixta was like a myth, now. The 
one, only, great reality in the world was 
Clarisse standing before him, telling him 
that she loved him. 

In the distance they heard the rapid dis 
charge of pistol-shots ; but it did not dis 
turb them. They knew it was only the 
negro musicians who had gone into the yard 
to fire their pistols into the air, as the cus 
tom is, and to announce " le bed estfini" 



LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

THE summer night was hot and still ; not 
a ripple of air swept over the marais. Yon 
der, across Bayou St. John, lights twinkled 
here and there in the darkness, and in the 
dark sky above a few stars were blinking. 
A lugger that had come out of the lake was 
moving with slow, lazy motion down the 
bayou. A man in the boat was singing a 
song. 

The notes of the song came faintly to the 
ears of old Manna Loulou, herself as black 
as the night, who had gone out upon the 
gallery to open the shutters wide. 

Something in the refrain reminded the 
woman of an old, half -forgotten Creole ro 
mance, and she began to sing it low to her 
self while she threw the shutters open : 

" Lisett to kit<$ la plaine, 
Mo perdi bonhair a mou ; 
Zi^s a mou<5 sembl^ fontaine, 
Ddpi mo pa mir<5 tou." 

And then this old song, a lover s lament 



LA BELLE ZORAIDE, 281 

for the loss of his mistress, floating into 
her memory, brought with it the story she 
would tell to Madame, who lay in her sump 
tuous mahogany bed, waiting to be fanned 
and put to sleep to the sound of one of 
Manna Loulou s stories. The old negress 
had already bathed her mistress s pretty 
white feet and kissed them lovingly, one, then 
the other. She had brushed her mistress s 
beautiful hair, that was as soft and shining 
as satin, and was the color of Madame s 
wedding-ring. Now, when she reentered the 
room, she moved softly toward the bed, and 
seating herself there began gently to fan 
Madame Delisle. 

Manna Loulou was not always ready with 
her story, for Madame would hear none but 
those which were true. But to-night the 
story was all there in Manna Loulou s head 
the story of la belle Zoraide and she 
told it to her mistress in the soft Creole 
patois, whose music and charm no English 
words can convey. 

" La belle Zoraide had eyes that were so 
dusky, so beautiful, that any man who gazed 
too long into their depths was sure to lose 
his head, and even his heart sometimes. 
Her soft, smooth skin was the color of cafe- 



282 LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

au-lait. As for her elegant manners, her 
svelte and graceful figure, they were the 
envy of half the ladies who visited her mis 
tress, Madame Delariviere. 

u No wonder Zorai de was as charming 
and as dainty as the finest lady of la rue 
Royale : from a toddling thing she had been 
brought up at her mistress s side ; her fingers 
had never done rougher work than sewing 
a fine muslin seam ; and she even had her 
own little black servant to wait upon her. 
Madame, who was her godmother as well as 
her mistress, woidd often say to her : 

" Remember, Zorai de, when you are ready 
to marry, it must be in a way to do honor to 
your bringing up. It will be at the Cathe 
dral. Your wedding gown, your corbeille, 
all will be of the best ; I shall see to that 
myself. You know, M sieur Ambroise is 
ready whenever you say the word ; and his 
master is willing to do as much for him as 
I shall do for you. It is a union that will 
please me in every way. 

M sieur Ambroise was then the bod}^ ser 
vant of IJoctor Langle. La belle Zorai de 
detested the little mulatto, with his shining 
whiskers like a white man s, and his small 
eyes, that were cruel and false as a snake s. 



LA BELLE Z OR A IDE. 283 

She would cast down her own mischievous 
eyes, and say : 

" 4 Ah, nenaine, I am so happy, so con 
tented here at your side just as I am. I 
don t want to marry now ; next year, per 
haps, or the next. And Madame would 
smile indulgently and remind Zorai de that 
a woman s charms are not everlasting. 

" But the truth of the matter was, Zorai de 
had seen le beau Mezor dance the Bamboula 
in Congo Square. That was a sight to hold 
one rooted to the ground. Mezor was as 
straight as a cypress-tree and as proud look 
ing as a king. His body, bare to the waist, 
was like a column of ebony and it glistened 
like oil. 

"Poor Zoraide s heart grew sick in her 
bosom with love for le beau Mezor from the 
moment she saw the fierce gleam of his eye, 
lighted by the inspiring strains of the Bam 
boula, and beheld the stately movements of 
his splendid body swaying and quivering 
through the figures of the dance. 

" But when she knew him later, and he 
came near her to speak with her, all the 
fierceness was gone out of his eyes, and she 
saw only kindness in them and heard only 
gentleness in his voice ; for love had taken 



284 LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

possession of him also, and Zorai de was 
more distracted than ever. When Mezor 
was not dancing Bamboula in Congo Square, 
he was hoeing sugar-cane, barefooted and 
half naked, in his master s field outside of 
the city. Doctor Langle was his master as 
well as M sieur Ambroise s. 

" One day, when Zorai de kneeled before 
her mistress, drawing on Madame s silken 
stockings, that were of the finest, she said : 

" Nenaine, you have spoken to me often 
of marrying. Now, at last, I have chosen a 
husband, but it is not M sieur Ambroise ; it 
is le beau Mezor that I want and no other. 
And Zorai de hid her face in her hands when 
she had said that, for she guessed, rightly 
enough, that her mistress would be very 
angry. And, indeed, Madame Delariviere 
was at first speechless with rage. When 
she finally spoke it was only to gasp out, 
exasperated : 

" That negro ! that negro ! Bon Dieu 
Seigneur, but this is too much ! 

" Am I white, nenaine ? pleaded Zorai de. 

" You white ! Malheureuse ! You de 
serve to have the lash laid upon you like 
any other slave ; you have proven yourself 
no better than the worst. 



LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 285 

" I am not white, persisted Zorai de, 
respectfully and gently. c Doctor Langle 
gives me his slave to marry, but he would 
not give me his son. Then, since I am 
not white, let me have from out of my own 
race the one whom my heart has chosen. 

"However, you may well believe that 
Madame would not hear to that. Zorai de 
was forbidden to speak to Mezor, and Mezor 
was cautioned against seeing Zorai de again. 
But you know how the negroes are, Ma zelle 
Titite," added Manna Loulou, smiling a 
little sadly. " There is no mistress, no mas 
ter, no king nor priest who can hinder them 
from loving when they will. And these two 
found ways and means. 

" When months had passed by, Zorai de, 
who had grown unlike herself, sober and 
preoccupied, said again to her mistress : 

" Nenaine, you would not let me have 
Mezor for my husband; but I have dis 
obeyed you, I have sinned. Kill me if you 
wish, nenaine : forgive me if you will ; but 
when I heard le beau Mezor say to me, 
" Zorai de, mo 1 aime toi," I could have died, 
but I could not have helped loving him. 

" This time Madame Delariviere was 
so actually pained, so wounded at hearing 



286 LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

Zoraide s confession, that there was no place 
left in her heart for anger. She could utter 
only confused reproaches. But she was a 
woman of action rather than of words, and 
she acted promptly. Her first step was to 
induce Doctor Langle to sell Mezor. Doctor 
Langle, who was a widower, had long wanted 
to marry Madame Delarivire, and he would 
willingly have walked on all fours at noon 
through the Place d Armes if she wanted 
him to. Naturally he lost no time in dis 
posing of le beau Mezor, who was sold away 
into Georgia, or the Carolinas, or one of 
those distant countries far away, where he 
would no longer hear his Creole tongue 
spoken, nor dance Calinda, nor hold la belle 
Zoraide in his arms. 

" The poor thing was heartbroken when 
Mezor was sent away from her, but she took 
comfort and hope in the thought of her 
baby that she would soon be able to clasp to 
her breast. 

" La belle Zoraide s sorrows had now be 
gun in earnest. Not only sorrows but suf 
ferings, and with the anguish of maternity 
came the shadow of death. But there is 110 
agony that a mother will not forget when 
she holds her first-born to her heart, and 



LA BELLE Z OR AIDE. 287 

presses her lips upon the baby flesh that is 
her own, yet far more precious than her own. 

" So, instinctively, when Zoraide came 
out of the awful shadow she gazed question- 
ingly about her and felt with her trembling 
hands upon either side of her. Ou li, mo 
piti a moin ? where is my little one ? she 
asked imploringly. Madame who was there 
and the nurse who was there both told her 
in turn, To piti a toi, li mouri ( Your 
little one is dead ), which was a wicked false 
hood that must have caused the angels in 
heaven to weep. For the baby was living 
and well and strong. It had at once been 
removed from its mother s side, to be sent 
away to Madame s plantation, far up the 
coast. Zoraide could only moan in reply, 
Li mouri, li mouri, and she turned her 
face to the wall. 

" Madame had hoped, in thus depriving 
Zoraide of her child, to have her young 
waiting-maid again at her side free, happy, 
and beautiful as of old. But there was a 
more powerful will than Madame s at work 
the will of the good God, who had al 
ready designed that Zoraide should grieve 
with a sorrow that was never more to be 
lifted in this world. La belle Zoraide was 



288 LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

no more. In her stead was a sad-eyed wo 
man who mourned night and day for her 
baby. 4 Li mouri, li mouri, she would sigh 
over and over again to those about her, and 
to herself when others grew weary of her 
complaint. 

" Yet, in spite of all, M sieur Ambroise 
was still in the notion to marry her. A sad 
wife or a merry one was all the same to him 
so long as that wife was Zoraide. And she 
seemed to consent, or rather submit, to the 
approaching marriage as though nothing 
mattered any longer in this world. 

" One day, a black servant entered a little 
noisily the room in which Zoraide sat sewing. 
With a look of strange and vacuous happi 
ness upon her face, Zoraide arose hastily. 
4 Hush, hush, she whispered, lifting a warn 
ing finger, my little one is asleep ; you 
must not awaken her. 

" Upon the bed was a senseless bundle of 
rags shaped like an infant in swaddling 
clothes. Over this dummy the woman had 
drawn the mosquito bar, and she was sitting 
contentedly beside it. In short, from that 
day Zoraide was demented. Night nor day 
did she lose sight of the doll that lay in her 
bed or in her arms. 



LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 289 

" And now was Madame stung with sor 
row and remorse at seeing this terrible 
affliction that had befallen her dear Zorai de. 
Consulting with Doctor Langle, they de 
cided to bring back to the mother the real 
baby of flesh and blood that was now tod 
dling about, and kicking its heels in the 
dust yonder upon the plantation. 

"It was Madame herself who led the 
pretty, tiny little " griffe " girl to her mother. 
Zorai de was sitting upon a stone bench in 
the courtyard, listening to the soft splash 
ing of the fountain, and watching the fitful 
shadows of the palm leaves upon the broad, 
white flagging. 

" Here, said Madame, approaching, 
here, my poor dear Zorai de, is your own 
little child. Keep her ; she is yours. No 
one will ever take her from you again. 

" Zorai de looked with sullen suspicion 
upon her mistress and the child before her. 
Reaching out a hand she thrust the little 
one mistrustfully away from her. With the 
other hand she clasped the rag bundle 
fiercely to her breast ; for she suspected a 
plot to deprive her of it. 

" Nor could she ever be induced to let her 
own child approach her; and finally the 



290 LA BELLE ZORAIDE. 

little one was sent back to the plantation, 
where she was never to know the love of 
mother or father. 

"And now this is the end of Zoraide s 
story. She was never known again as la 
belle Zorai de, but ever after as Zoraide la 
folle, whom no one ever wanted to marry 
not even M sieur Ambroise. She lived to 
be an old woman, whom some people pitied 
and others laughed at always clasping her 
bundle of rags her piti. 

" Are you asleep, Ma zelle Titite ? " 
" No, I am not asleep ; I was thinking. 
Ah, the poor little one, Man Loulou, the 
poor little one ! better had she died ! " 

But this is the way Madame Delisle and 
Manna Loulou really talked to each 
other : 

" Vou pre droumi, Ma zelle Titite ? " 
" Non, pa pre droumi ; mo yapre zongier. 
Ah, la pauv piti, Man Loulou. La pauv 
piti ! Mieux li mouri ! " 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 

IT was no wonder Mr. Sublet, who was 
staying at the Hallet plantation, wanted to 
make a picture of Evariste. The ^Cadian 
was rather a picturesque subject in his way, 
and a tempting one to an artist looking for 
bits of " local color " along the Teche. 

Mr. Sublet had seen the man on the back 
gallery just as he came out of the swamp, 
trying to sell a wild turkey to the house 
keeper. He spoke to him at once, and in 
the course of conversation engaged him to 
return to the house the following morning 
and have his picture drawn. He handed 
Evariste a couple of silver dollars to show 
that his intentions were fair, and that he ex 
pected the Cadian to keep faith with him. 

" He tell me he want put my picture in 
one fine J/a^ zine, " said Evariste to his 
daughter, Martinette, when the two were 
talking the matter over in the afternoon. 
" Wat fo you reckon he want do dat ? " 
They sat within the low, homely cabin of 



292 A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 

two rooms, that was not quite so comforta 
ble as Mr. Hallet s negro quarters. 

Martinette pursed her red lips that had 
little sensitive curves to them, and her black 
eyes took on a reflective expression. 

" Mebbe he yeard bout that big fish w at 
you ketch las winta in Carancro lake. You 
know it was all wrote about in the Suga 
Bowl. " Her father set aside the sugges 
tion with a deprecatory wave of the hand. 

" Well, anyway, you got to fix yo se f 
up," declared Martinette, dismissing further 
speculation ; " put on yo otha pantloon an 
yo good coat ; an you betta ax Mr. Leonce 
to cut yo hair, an yo w sker a li le bit." 

" It s w at I say," chimed in Evariste. 
"I tell dat gent man I m goin make my- 
se f fine. He say , No, no, like he ent 
please . He want me like I come out de 
swamp. So much betta if my pant loon 
an* coat is tore, he- say, an color like de 
mud." They could not understand these 
eccentric wishes on the part of the strange 
gentleman, and made no effort to do so. 

An hour later Martinette, who was quite 
puffed up over the affair, trotted across to 
Aunt Dicey s cabin to communicate the 
news to her. The negress was ironing ; her 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 293 

irons stood in a long row before the fire of 
logs that burned on the hearth. Martinette 
seated herself in the chimney corner and 
held her feet up to the blaze ; it was damp 
and a little chilly out of doors. The girl s 
shoes were considerably worn and her gar 
ments were a little too thin and scant for the 
winter season. Her father had given her the 
two dollars he had received from the artist, 
and Martinette was on her way to the store 
to invest them as judiciously as she knew 
how. 

"You know, Aunt Dicey," she began a 
little complacently after listening awhile to 
Aunt Dicey s unqualified abuse of her own 
son, Wilkins, who was dining-room boy at 
Mr. Hallet s, " you know that stranger 
gentleman up to Mr. Hallet s ? he want to 
make my popa s picture ; an he say he 
goin put it in one fine Magazine yonda." 

Aunt Dicey spat upon her iron to test its 
heat. Then she began to snicker. She kept 
on laughing inwardly, making her whole fat 
body shake, and saying nothing. 

"Wat youlanghin bout, Aunt Dice?" 
inquired Martinette mistrustfully. 

" I is n laughin , chile ! " 

"Yas, you laughin ." 



294 A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TtiCHE. 

" Oh, don t pay no tention to me. I jis 
studyin how simple you an yo pa is. You 
is bof de simplest somebody I eva come 
crost." 

" You got to say plumb out w at you mean, 
Aunt Dice," insisted the girl doggedly, sus 
picious and alert now. 

" Well, dat w y I say you is simple," pro 
claimed the woman, slamming down her iron 
on an inverted, battered pie pan, " jis like 
you says, dey gwine put yo pa s picture 
yonda in de picture paper. An you know 
w at readin dey gwine sot down on neaf dat 
picture?" Martinette was intensely atten 
tive. " Dey gwine sot down on neaf : Dis 
heah is one dem low-down Cajuns o Bayeh 
Teche ! " 

The blood flowed from Martinette s face, 
leaving it deathly pale ; in another instant 
it came beating back in a quick flood, and 
her eyes smarted with pain as if the tears 
that filled them had been fiery hot. 

" I knows dem kine o folks," continued 
Aunt Dicey, resuming her interrupted iron 
ing. " Dat stranger he got a li le boy w at 
ain t none too big to spank. Dat li le imp 
he come a hoppin in heah yistiddy wid a 
kine o box on neaf his arm. He say 4 Good 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 295 

mo nin , madam. Will you be so kine an 
stan jis like you is dah at yo i onin , an lef 
me take yo picture ? I lowed I gwine 
make a picture outen him wid dis heah flat- 
i on, ef he don cl ar hisse f quick. An 
he say he baig my pardon fo his intrude- 
ment. All dat kine o talk to a ole nigga 
oman ! Dat plainly sho he don know his 
place." 

" Wat you want im to say, Aunt Dice ? " 
asked Martinette, with an effort to conceal 
her distress. 

" I wants im to come in heah an say : 
Howdy, Aunt Dicey ! will you be so kine 
and go put on yo noo calker dress an yo 
bonnit w at you w ars to meetin , an stan 
side f om dat i onin -boa d w ilse I gwine 
take yo photygraph. Dat de way fo a boy 
to talk w at had good raisin ." 

Martinette had arisen, and began to take 
slow leave of the woman. She turned at the 
cabin door to observe tentatively : " I reckon 
it s Wilkins tells you how the folks they 
talk, yonda up to Mr. Hallet s." 

She did not go to the store as she had in 
tended, but walked with a dragging step 
back to her home. The silver dollars clicked 
in her pocket as she walked. She felt like 



296 A GENTLEMAN OF BA.YOU TECHE. 

flinging them across the field ; they seemed 
to her somehow the price of shame. 

The sun had sunk, and twilight was set 
tling like a silver beam upon the bayou and 
enveloping the fields in a gray mist. Eva- 
riste, slim and slouchy, was waiting for his 
daughter in the cabin door. He had lighted 
a fire of sticks and branches, and placed the 
kettle before it to boil. He met the girl 
with his slow, serious, questioning eyes, as-, 
tonished to see her empty-handed. 

"How come you didn" bring nuttin f om 
de sto , Martinette ? " 

She entered and flung her gingham sun- 
bonnet upon a chair. "No, I didn go 
yon da ; " and with sudden exasperation : 
" You got to go take back that money ; you 
mus n git no picture took." 

"But, Martinette," her father mildly in 
terposed, " I promise im ; an he s goin 
give me some mo money w en he finish." 

"If he give you a ba el o money, you 
mus n git no picture took. You know w at 
he want to put un neath that picture, fo 
ev body to read?" She could not tell him 
the whole hideous truth as she had heard it 
distorted from Aunt Dicey s lips ; she would 
not hurt him that much. " He s goin to 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TEC HE. 297 

write : This is one Cajun o the Bayou 
Teche. Evariste winced. 
" How you know ? " he asked. 
" I yeard so. I know it s true." 
The water in the kettle was boiling. He 
went and poured a small quantity upon the 
coffee which he had set there to drip. Then 
he said to her : " I reckon you jus as well 
go care dat two dolla back, tomo mo nin ; 
.me, I ll go yonda ketch a mess o fish in 
Carancro lake." 

Mr. Hallet and a few masculine com 
panions were assembled at a rather late 
breakfast the following morning. The din 
ing-room was a big, bare one, enlivened by 
a cheerful fire of logs that blazed in the wide 
chimney on massive andirons. There were 
guns, fishing tackle, and other implements of 
sport lying about. A couple of fine dogs 
strayed unceremoniously in and out behind 
Wilkins, the negro boy who waited upon the 
table. The chair beside Mr. Sublet, usu 
ally occupied by his little son, was vacant, 
as the child had gone for an early morning 
outing and had not yet returned. 

When breakfast was about half over, 
Mr. Hallet noticed Martinette standing out- 



298 A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 

side upon the gallery. The dining-room 
door had stood open more than half the 
time. 

" Is n t that Martinette out there, Wil- 
kins ? " inquired the jovial-faced young 
planter. 

" Dat s who, suh," returned Wilkins. 
"She ben standin dah sence mos sun-up; 
look like she studyin to take root to de 
gall ry." 

" What in the name of goodness does she 
want ? Ask her what she wants. Tell her 
to come in to the fire." 

Martinette walked into the room with 
much hesitancy. Her small, brown face 
could hardly be seen in the depths of the 
gingham sun-bonnet. Her blue cottonade 
skirt scarcely reached the thin ankles that 
it should have covered. 

"Bonjou ," she murmured, with a little 
comprehensive nod that took in the entire 
company. Her eyes searched the table for 
the "stranger gentleman," and she knew 
him at once, because his hair was parted in 
the middle and he wore a pointed beard. 
She went and laid the two silver dollars be 
side his plate and motioned to retire without 
a word of explanation. 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TEC HE. 299 

"Hold on, Martinette ! " called out the 
planter, "what s all this pantomime busi 
ness ? Speak out, little one." 

" My popa don t want any picture took," 
she offered, a little timorously. On her way 
to the door she had looked back to say this. 
In that fleeting glance she detected a smile 
of intelligence pass from one to the other 
of the group. She turned quickly, facing 
them all, and spoke out, excitement making 
her voice bold and shrill : " My popa ent 
one low-down Cajun. He ent goin to 
stan to have that kine o writin put down 
un neath his picture ! " 

She almost ran from the room, half 
blinded by the emotion that had helped her 
to make so daring a speech. 

Descending the gallery steps she ran full 
against her father who was ascending, bear 
ing in his arms the little boy, Archie Sublet. 
The child was most grotesquely attired in 
garments far too large for his diminutive 
person the rough jeans clothing of some 
negro boy. Evariste himself had evidently 
been taking a bath without the preliminary 
ceremony of removing his clothes, that were 
now half dried upon his person by the wind 
and sun. 



300 A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 

" Yere you li le boy," he announced, 
stumbling into the room. " You ought not 
lef dat li le chile go by hisse f comme $a in 
de pirogue." Mr. Sublet darted from his 
chair; the others following suit almost as 
hastily. In an instant, quivering with ap 
prehension, he had his little son in his arms. 
The child was quite unharmed, only some 
what pale and nervous, as the consequence 
of a recent very serious ducking. 

Evariste related in his uncertain, broken 
English how he had been fishing for an 
hour or more in Carancro lake, when he no 
ticed the boy paddling over the deep, black 
water in a shell-like pirogue. Nearing a 
clump of cypress-trees that rose from the 
lake, the pirogue became entangled in the 
heavy moss that hung from the tree limbs 
and trailed upon the water. The next thing 
he knew, the boat had overturned, he heard 
the child scream, and saw him disappear 
beneath the still, black surface of the lake. 

" Wen I done swim to de sho wid im," 
continued Evariste, " I hurry yonda to Jake 
Baptiste s cabin, an we rub im an warm 
im up, an dress im up dry like you see. 
He all right now, M sieur ; but you mus n 
lef im go no mo by hisse f in one pirogue." 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 301 

Martinette had followed into the room be 
hind her father. She was feeling and tap 
ping his wet garments solicitously, and beg 
ging him in French to come home. Mr. 
Hallet at once ordered hot coffee and a 
warm breakfast for the two ; and they sat 
down at the corner of the table, making no 
manner of objection in their perfect simpli 
city. It was with visible reluctance and 
ill-disguised contempt that Wilkins served 
them. 

When Mr. Sublet had arranged his son 
comfortably, with tender care, upon the sofa, 
and had satisfied himself that the child was 
quite uninjured, he attempted to find words 
with which to thank Evariste for this service 
which no treasure of words or gold could 
pay for. These warm and heartfelt expres 
sions seemed to Evariste to exaggerate the 
importance of his action, and they intim 
idated him. He attempted shyly to hide his 
face as well as he could in the depths of his 
bowl of coffee. 

" You will let me make your picture now, 
I hope, Evariste," begged Mr. Sublet, laying 
his hand upon the Cadian s shoulder. " I 
want to place it among things I hold most 
dear, and shall call it A hero of Bayou 

O 



302 A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 

Teche. : This assurance seemed to distress 
Evariste greatly. 

" No, no," lie protested, " it s nuttin hero 
to take a li le boy out de water. I jus as 
easy do dat like I stoop down an pick up a 
li le chile w at fall down in de road. I ent 
goin to low dat, me. I don t git no picture 
took, va ! " 

Mr. Hallet, who now discerned his friend s 
eagerness in the matter, came to his aid. 

" I tell you, Evariste, let Mr. Sublet draw 
your picture, and you yourself may call it 
whatever you want. I m sure he 11 let 
you." 

" Most willingly," agreed the artist. 

Evariste glanced up at him with shy and 
child-like pleasure. " It s a bargain ? " he 
asked. 

" A bargain," affirmed Mr. Sublet. 

" Popa," whispered Martinette, " you betta 
come home an put on yo otha pant loon 
an yo good coat." 

" And now, what shall we call the much 
talked-of picture?" cheerily inquired the 
planter, standing with his back to the blaze. 

Evariste in a business-like manner began 
carefully to trace on the tablecloth imag 
inary characters with an imaginary pen ; he 



A GENTLEMAN OF BAYOU TECHE. 303 

could not have written the real characters 
with a real pen he did not know how. 

"You will put on neat de picture," he 
said, deliberately, " Dis is one picture of 
Mista Evariste Anatole Bonamour, a gent - 
man of de Bayou Teche. 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 

THE days and the nights were very lonely 
for Madame Delisle. Gustave, her husband, 
was away yonder in Virginia somewhere, 
with Beauregard, and she was here in the 
old house on Bayou St. John, alone with her 
slaves. 

Madame was very beautiful. So beauti 
ful, that she found much diversion in sitting 
for hours before the mirror, contemplating 
her own loveliness ; admiring the brilliancy 
of her golden hair, the sweet languor of her 
blue eyes, the graceful contours of her fig 
ure, and the peach-like bloom of her flesh. 
She was very young. So young that she 
romped with the dogs, teased the parrot, and 
could not fall asleep at night unless old 
black Manna-Loulou sat beside her bed and 
told her stories. 

In short, she was a child, not able to real 
ize the significance of the tragedy whose un 
folding kept the civilized world in suspense. 
It was only the immediate effect of the awful 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 305 

drama that moved her : the gloom that, 
spreading on all sides, penetrated her own 
existence and deprived it of joyousness. 

Sepincourt found her looking very lonely 
and disconsolate one day when he stopped 
to talk with her. She was pale, and her blue 
eyes were dim with unwept tears. He was 
a Frenchman who lived near by. He 
shrugged his shoulders over this strife be 
tween brothers, this quarrel which was none 
of his ; and he resented it chiefly upon the 
ground that it made life uncomfortable ; yet 
he was young enough to have had quicker 
and hotter blood in his veins. 

When he left Madame Delisle that day, 
her eyes were no longer dim, and a some 
thing of the dreariness that weighted her 
had been lifted away. That mysterious, that 
treacherous bond called sympathy, had re 
vealed them to each other. 

He came to her very often that summer, 
clad always in cool, white duck, with a flower 
in his buttonhole. His pleasant brown eyes 
sought hers with warm, friendly glances that 
comforted her as a caress might comfort a 
disconsolate child. She took to watching 
for his slim figure, a little bent, walking laz 
ily up the avenue between the double line of 
magnolias. 



306 A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 

They would sit sometimes during whole 
afternoons in the vine-sheltered corner of 
the gallery, sipping the black coffee that 
Manna-Loulou brought to them at intervals ; 
and talking, talking incessantly during the 
first days when they were unconsciously un 
folding themselves to each other. Then a 
time came it came very quickly when 
they seemed to have nothing more to say to 
one another. 

He brought her news of the war; and 
they talked about it listlessly, between long 
intervals of silence, of which neither took 
account. An occasional letter came by round 
about ways from Gustave guarded arid 
saddening in its tone. They would read it 
and sigh over it together. 

Once they stood before his portrait that 
hung in the drawing-room and that looked 
out at them with kind, indulgent eyes. Ma 
dame wiped the picture with her gossamer 
handkerchief and impulsively pressed a ten 
der kiss upon the painted canvas. For 
months past the living image of her husband 
had been receding further and further into 
a mist which she could penetrate with no 
faculty or power that she possessed. 

One day at sunset, when she and Sepin- 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 307 

court stood silently side by side, looking 
across the marais, aflame with the western 
light, he said to her: "M amie, let us go 
away from this country that is so triste. Let 
us go to Paris, you and me." 

She thought that he was jesting, and she 
laughed nervously. "Yes, Paris would 
surely be gayer than Bayou St. John," she 
answered. But he was not jesting. She saw 
it at once in the glance that penetrated her 
own ; in the quiver of his sensitive lip and 
the quick beating of a swollen vein in his 
brown throat. 

"Paris, or anywhere with you ah, 
bon Dieu ! " he whispered, seizing her hands. 
But she withdrew from him, frightened, and 
hurried away into the house, leaving him 
alone. 

That night, for the first time, Madame 
did not want to hear Manna-Loulou s stories, 
and she blew out the wax candle that till 
now had burned nightly, in her sleeping- 
room, under its tall, crystal globe. She had 
suddenly become a woman capable of love 
or sacrifice. She would not hear Manna- 
Loulou s stories. She wanted to be alone, 
to tremble and to weep. 

In the morning her eyes were dry, but she 



308 A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 

would not see Sepincourt when he came. 
Then he wrote her a letter. 

" I have offended you and I would rather 
die ! " it ran. " Do not banish me from 
your presence that is life to me. Let me lie 
at your feet, if only for a moment, in which 
to hear you say that you forgive me." 

Men have written just such letters before, 
but Madame did not know it. To her it was 
a voice from the unknown, like music, awak 
ing in her a delicious tumult that seized and 
held possession of her whole being. 

When they met, he had but to look into 
her face to know that he need not lie at her 
feet craving forgiveness. She was waiting 
for him beneath the spreading branches of a 
live-oak that guarded the gate of her home 
like a sentinel. 

For a brief moment he held her hands, 
which trembled. Then he folded her in 
his arms and kissed her many times. "You 
will go with me, iriamie ? I love you oh, 
I love you ! Will you not go with me, 
m amie f " 

" Anywhere, anywhere," she told him in 
a fainting voice that he could scarcely hear. 

But she did not go with him. Chance 
willed it otherwise. That night a courier 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 309 

brought her a message from Beauregard, 
telling her that Gustave, her husband, was 
dead. 

When the new year was still young, Sepin- 
court decided that, all things considered, he 
might, without any appearance of indecent 
haste, speak again of his love to Madame 
Delisle. That love was quite as acute as 
ever ; perhaps a little sharper, from the long 
period of silence and waiting to which he 
had subjected it. He found her, as he had 
expected, clad in deepest mourning. She 
greeted him precisely as she had welcomed 
the cure, when the kind old priest had 
brought to her the consolations of religion 
clasping his two hands warmly, and call 
ing him "cAer ami." Her whole attitude 
and bearing brought to Sepincourt the poig 
nant, the bewildering conviction that he held 
no place in her thoughts. 

They sat in the drawing-room before the 
portrait of Gustave, which was draped with 
his scarf. Above the picture hung his 
sword, and beneath it was an embankment 
of flowers. Sepincourt felt an almost irre 
sistible impulse to bend his knee before this 
altar, upon which he saw foreshadowed the 
immolation of his hopes. 



310 A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 

There was a soft air blowing gently over 
the marais. It came to them through the 

o 

open window, laden with a hundred subtle 
sounds and scents of the springtime. It 
seemed to remind Madame of something 
far, far away, for she gazed dreamily out 
into the blue firmament. It fretted Sepin- 
court with impulses to speech and action 
which he found it impossible to control. 

" You must know what has brought me," 
he began impulsively, drawing his chair 
nearer to hers. "Through all these months 
I have never ceased to love you and to long 
for you. Night and day the sound of your 
dear voice has been with me ; your eyes " 

She held out her hand deprecatingly. He 
took it and held it. She let it lie unrespon 
sive in his. 

" You cannot have forgotten that you 
loved me not long ago," he went on eagerly, 
"that you were ready to follow me any 
where, anywhere ; do you remember ? I 
have come now to ask you to fulfill that 
promise ; to ask you to be my wife, my com 
panion, the dear treasure of my life." 

She heard his warm and pleading tones 
as though listening to a strange language, 
imperfectly understood. 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHti. 311 

She withdrew her hand from his, and 
leaned her brow thoughtfully upon it. 

" Can you not feel can you not under 
stand, mon ami" she said calmly, " that 
now such a thing such a thought, is im 
possible to me ? " 

" Impossible ? " 

" Yes, impossible. Can you not see that 
now my heart, my soul, my thought my 
very life, must belong to another ? It could 
not be different." 

" Would you have me believe that you 
can wed your young existence to the dead ? " 
he exclaimed with something like horror. 
Her glance was sunk deep in the embank 
ment of flowers before her. 

"My husband has never been so living 
to me as he is now," she replied with a 
faint smile of commiseration for Sepin- 
court s fatuity. " Every object that sur 
rounds me speaks to me of him. I look 
yonder across the marais, and I see him 
coming toward me, tired and toil-stained 
from the hunt. I see him again sitting in 
this chair or in that one. I hear his familiar 
voice, his footsteps upon the galleries. "We 
walk once more together beneath the mag 
nolias ; and at night in dreams I feel that 



312 A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 

he is there, there, near me. How could it 
be different ! Ah ! I have memories, mem 
ories to crowd and fill my life, if I live a 
hundred years ! " 

Sepincourt was wondering why she did 
not take the sword down from her altar and 
thrust it through his body here and there. 
The effect would have been infinitely more 
agreeable than her words, penetrating his 
soul like fire. He arose confused, enraged 
with pain. 

" Then, Madame," he stammered, " there 
is nothing left for me but to take my leave. 
I bid you adieu." 

" Do not be offended, mon ami" she said 
kindly, holding out her hand. " You are 
going to Paris, I suppose ? " 

" What does it matter," he exclaimed 
desperately, " where I go ? " 

" Oh, I only wanted to wish you bon voy 
age" she assured him amiably. 

Many days after that Sepincourt spent in 
the fruitless mental effort of trying to com 
prehend that psychological enigma, a wo 
man s heart. 

Madame still lives on Bayou St. John. 
She is rather an old lady now, a very pretty 
old lady, against whose long years of widow- 



A LADY OF BAYOU ST. JOHN. 313 

hood there has never been a breath of re 
proach. The memory of Gustave still fills 
and satisfies her days. She has never failed, 
once a year, to have a solemn high mass 
said for the repose of his soul. 



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